Keenan Allen was having the best year of his entire career for the Chargers at the ripe age of 31. Allen set a career-high in receptions and was 150 yards shy of his career-high in receiving yards through just 13 games in 2023.
Then Justin Herbert got hurt and Allen started dealing with a heel injury that kept him out the rest of the season. If Herbert was healthy and the Chargers were playing for something then Allen likely could have played but the Chargers took the cautious route, ending his 2023 season in the process.
After such a great year it seems like a no-brainer that Allen would be back in the fold in 2024. However, the Chargers are well over next year's salary cap and trading/waiving Allen before June 1 would free up $23.1 million, per Over The Cap. For that reason, the Chargers parting ways with Allen in the offseason has to at least be considered as a possibility.
Allen was asked about his future on Monday and he essentially threw cold water on the possibility of the Chargers trading him, reiterating that he does not want to go anywhere else.
Keenan Allen kills any potential Chargers trade rumors
Keenan Allen wants to stay on the Chargers and the team should grant that wish. Yes, he is on the wrong side of 30 but Allen is coming off of a career year and has proven that he can still be a key part of a great offense in the NFL.
Plus, trading him is going to be harder to do when he has a list of preferred teams that he would give to the Chargers. Other teams see a quote like this and are not going to be willing to trade capital (and absorb the cap space) of a player who might not even want to be there.
At that point, the Chargers are not getting anything more than cap space out of getting rid of Allen and there are other ways to go about it. Other players on the roster (looking at you, Mike Williams) are better candidates to waive/trade for cap reasons. Allen should be the last on that list.
The Chargers can still save money on Allen's deal by extending him. Sure, he is older, but the Chargers can extend Allen for two more years to soften some of the blow this year. Even if he is not a WR1 in two years, Allen will still have value as a shifty veteran slot receiver who can teach the young receivers on the roster to help them develop.
DeAndre Hopkins signed a two-year, $26 million contract and that is likely around what Allen would get at his age. Hopkins was entering his age 31 season when he signed the deal and a two-year extension for Allen would be his age 33 and 34 season.
It might be a bit of an overpay, but let's say the Chargers give Allen a two-year extension with $25 million guaranteed. The team can convert some of Allen's salary into bonuses in the extension years. Let's say the team converts $10 million of his salary into a $5 million bonus in each of the two years. That would give Allen a cap hit of $24.7 million in 2024 and $17.5 million in both 2025 and 2026. This would save $10 million in cap space for 2024.
Mixed with other moves the Chargers can make, this would be a great way to save money and keep Allen on the team for the foreseeable future. This is a better (and more likely) outcome than trading Allen this spring.