The LA Chargers head into the 2023 offseason without the same ability to make a splash that the team had last spring. After the most aggressive offseason in franchise history, the Bolts are in a place where they may need to trim down (or at least restructure) to fit under the 2023 salary cap.
As it currently stands, the Chargers are estimated to be $19.9 million over the projected salary cap for the 2023 season. While there are several no-brainer cut candidates to free up money, the Bolts are going to have to create extra cap space somewhere else.
The most compelling potential avenue is cutting Keenan Allen. This has been a highly-debated topic among the fanbase, with Daniel Popper of The Athletic even giving it less than a 40% chance that Allen returns next season. If the Bolts were to cut him they would free up $14.8 million in cap space.
Most Chargers fans are going to struggle immensely with the idea of Allen leaving the team. He is the longest-tenured player on the roster and is one of just two players (alongside Joey Bosa) that played for the team during the San Diego days. The same Chargers fans who will struggle with Allen leaving may also have to deal with another heartbreak: Allen joining a rival team.
If the Chargers cut Keenan Allen the seeds are planted for him to join the Raiders.
It might seem impossible for Keenan Allen to jump ship to the Las Vegas Raiders after spending so much time with the Chargers. That being said, if the Chargers cut him he does not owe them anything. If he wants to join the Raiders then he can join the Raiders. Why would he limit himself to please a team that just cut him?
There are multiple seeds that have already been planted. The first of which is a now infamous photo of Allen wearing a Raiders hat after he was drafted by the Chargers in 2013. This is the definition of trivial but if Allen is a fan of the team (he did go to college in Northern California), then that could sway his decision-making process.
There is also his ties with Davante Adams. Allen and Adams have long teased a potential team-up in the future, leading many Chargers fans to think that Adams would join the Bolts. That never happened but this presents a chance for Allen to take a team-friendly one-year deal to play alongside Adams in Vegas.
Then you add the Tom Brady of it all. The Raiders look like one of the few teams that could actually land Brady next season and if that happens they are going to load up on assets. Adding Allen to an already talented pass-catcher room is exactly the kind of move Brady would levy for. With Brady under center, Allen may view the Raiders as his best chance of winning a Super Bowl.
In a perfect world, Allen would join some team in the NFC that the Chargers don't have to care about (like the New York Giants) but in reality, we cannot rule out him becoming a Raider. Just remember that if you are petitioning for the team to cut the best receiver in franchise history.