Keenan Allen is coming off a great 2023 season that would have resulted in career highs across the board if Justin Herbert didn't get hurt and Allen didn't sit out the last few Chargers games of the season. The 31-year-old reminded everyone that he still has it.
That being said, Allen's future with the team is still up in the air. The Chargers are well over next season's salary cap and Allen's inflated cap number makes him a potential trade/cut candidate. Wide receivers regress quickly in the NFL and with a new regime in LA, there is no guarantee that a 32-year-old will make it to next season's roster.
Thankfully for fans of Allen (which should be every single Chargers fan), it does not look like new head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to part ways. Harbaugh specifically mentioned Allen alongside Derwin James and Justin Herbert during a CBS Sports spot before the AFC Championship Game. That mention, while quick, might be very telling.
Jim Harbaugh may have just confirmed that Keenan Allen will return to the Chargers
Are we dissecting this comment a bit too much? Perhaps. But it does seem rather intentional that Harbaugh would specifically mention Allen as a pro's pro. He probably does not do that if there were any intentions of cutting ties with the veteran wide receiver.
Making this seem more intentional are the reports that started to circulate before Harbaugh's appearance on CBS. Before Harbaugh even said this, it was reported that he reached out to several members of the Chargers roster and that if he didn't reach out to someone specifically, it could be interpreted as a red flag.
That obviously is not the case with Allen, who seems like a lock to return to LA now. Even better, the Chargers could still reduce his cap hit by extending him to a new deal. It would be risky, but the Bolts could convert some of his base salary into a bonus over the course of the extension.
Something like a two-year, $24 million extension could save the Chargers around $12 million in 2024 while Allen would carry a cap hit of $18 million in 2025 and 2026. That is manageable, especially with the cap continuing to go up.
The real player that fans should be questioning after these comments is Khalil Mack. Mack is in a similar boat as Allen and Harbaugh did not mention him. That doesn't mean that Harbaugh hasn't reached out to Mack, but we do not have the same confirmation that we do with Allen.
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