Chargers undecided on future of Keenan Allen, other stars

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Los Angeles Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz was noncommittal on the futures of wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa when speaking with reporters Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine.

"We're still working through it," Hortiz said. "Obviously, the salary cap got bumped up a little bit higher than I think everyone was expecting -- a little bit more. It gives us, certainly, some flexibility a little bit. We'll continue to talk through that over the next couple of weeks and have a plan of attack shortly."

The Chargers are projected to be $25.5 million over the salary cap, according to ESPN's roster management system. Williams, Mack, Bosa and Allen -- four of the Chargers' best players -- all have projected cap hits upward of $30 million next year.

"In terms of the cap, I'm confident we can get there because you have to get there," Hortiz said with a smile. "I have no choice but to get under the cap, so I can promise you that we're going to do that."

Allen, the Chargers' longest-tenured player, has been the most committed to returning to the Chargers. He had arguably the best season of his career in 2023, setting the franchise record with 108 receptions and finishing with 1,243 yards, the second highest of his career.

Allen, 31, told reporters last month that he would only play for a select few teams if traded from the Chargers and would consider retirement.

Williams, Mack and Bosa have all expressed a willingness to return to the Chargers, but they have different situations than Allen.

Bosa and Williams have been among L.A.'s best players, when healthy. Bosa has made four Pro Bowls, including three straight from 2019-2021. Williams earned a three-year, $60 million contract after a career-best 2021 season with 76 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns.

Injuries, however, have plagued both players recently. After missing the playoffs with a back fracture during the previous season, Williams missed the final 14 games of the 2023 season after tearing his ACL in Week 3. Bosa has played 14 games in the previous two seasons, dealing with hamstring, toe and foot injuries.

Mack, 33, is in a similar position as Allen, in that he is in his early 30s but coming off arguably the best season of his career. He was a lone bright spot for an abysmal Chargers defense, securing a career-high 17 sacks, the third highest in the NFL.

Mack, however, doesn't have the ties to the Chargers like Allen does. He has been with the team for just two seasons and has said that winning a Super Bowl is his priority. If he feels he has a better chance to do that elsewhere, the Chargers could move on from him with one year remaining on his contract.

"I know what I bring to the game, understanding that I want to be a team guy," Mack said. "Whatever team. I'm not in control of that right now."

One aspect the Chargers also have to weigh is the players' ages; Williams, 29, and Bosa, 28, are slightly younger despite their injury history.

"You can look at a player's age," Hortiz said. "... You're always looking at it, but you also have to look at the production that they've had and that you expect them to continue to have. I think those are the things that you have to weigh."