Not long after the Bengals shot down the notion Tee Higgins is available via trade, the Chargers are effectively taking another big name off the wide receiver market. Tom Telesco put a stop to Keenan Allen trade rumors.
During an appearance on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, the longtime Chargers GM said there has “never been any thought” of moving Allen. Two years remain on the 11th-year veteran’s four-year, $80.1MM extension.
“Keenan Allen, to me, he’s our Andre Reed. He’s our Charlie Joiner,” Telesco said (Twitter link). “He’s an incredible football player. We have a great quarterback and we need weapons around him. There’s never been any thought of [a trade].”
Allen may not be on track to join those pass catchers in Canton, but he has been one of the most important Chargers players during this era. The Chargers gave Mike Williams a three-year, $60MM contract last March and have a Justin Herbert megadeal to negotiate. These big-picture components, Allen’s age (31 in April) and the Bolts’ cap situation have pointed to a potential separation. But a Herbert extension could pair with Allen’s money ($20MM AAV) for at least another season.
As the Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray extensions most recently showed, big-ticket QB contracts often carry low cap numbers in Year 1. Watson, Murray and Wilson all checked in below $18MM for first-year cap hits on their respective accords. Herbert’s deal following suit would complement Allen’s $21.7MM cap hit. The Chargers could look to reduce that via other methods as well.
Allen’s trade value took a hit last season as well. He missed seven games because of a recurring hamstring injury, limiting the top-shelf route-runner to 752 receiving yards. In terms of per-game impact, however, Allen’s 75.2 average was his best since 2017. The former third-round pick should have a bit more left in the tank to help the Bolts, who have relied on him for 10 seasons as a starter. With Higgins and Allen trades being squashed, that would only make the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks more valuable as part of a receiver landscape that does not feature a high-end free agency class or the kind of draft crop teams have grown accustomed to in recent years.
The Chargers are still $20MM over the cap. Allen staying on the payroll will force the team to make other adjustments. The Bolts want to keep right tackle Trey Pipkins, and The Athletic’s Daniel Popper notes linebacker and fellow UFA-to-be Drue Tranquill is likely in the team’s plans as well. Pipkins joins an intriguing right tackle market, which houses Mike McGlinchey, Jawaan Taylor and Kaleb McGary. Tranquill’s position group is one of the deepest, which should make the versatile ‘backer affordable for the Bolts. But the AFC West team still has work to do before it can make any re-signings happen.