Jets, Texans had interest in Keenan Allen before trade to Bears

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Before he was traded from the Chargers to the Bears on Thursday, wide receiver Keenan Allen revealed that Los Angeles had permitted him to explore several options for where he wanted to continue his career after spending 11 seasons with the franchise.

"There were a couple teams that they would allow me, I guess, to say where I wanted to go," Allen said Saturday. "I only had like two teams."

Later when asked about teams interested in trading for Allen, the wide receiver mentioned the the New York Jets and Houston Texans.

The Chargers were $21 million over the salary cap before free agency officially began Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. In the process of becoming cap compliant, pass-rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack both agreed to pay cuts while the team released veteran wide receiver Mike Williams.

After restructuring his contract last offseason, Allen declined to take a pay cut and was subsequently traded to the Bears for a fourth-round selection (No. 110).

"It really was no emotion. It was 'I'm not doing it,'" Allen said of his reaction to being asked to restructure his contract. "I'm not doing it. I just came off my best season, so it's not happening."

Despite missing the final four games of the 2023 season with a heel injury, Allen set the Chargers' single-single record for receptions (108) and led the team with 1,243 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver left the Chargers ranked second on the team's list of all-time receiving accomplishments (10,530 yards, 904 catches) and third in touchdowns (59). He is coming off his fifth season with 100 receptions, which is tied for the third most in NFL history, trailing only Antonio Brown and Brandon Marshall. Allen also holds the record for most games with 15 receptions (three) and ranks fourth all time for most games with 10 receptions. He had four games with 10 receptions last season, tied for the second most in the NFL.

Allen, 31, has one year remaining on the four-year, $80.1 million contract extension he signed in 2020 with a $5 million roster bonus due Sunday. While he said he and the Bears are approaching the prospect of a new deal "one day at a time," his hope is to remain with his new team on a long-term basis.

"Absolutely," Allen said. "Or we wouldn't be here right now. Obviously, we'll get there down the line."

In addition to pairing Allen with wide receiver DJ Moore, who is also coming off a career-best year, the Bears signed running back D'Andre Swift and tight end Gerald Everett in free agency. Next month, the Bears lead off the draft with the No. 1 overall pick with the potential to draft USC quarterback Caleb Williams on April 25.

Allen ushered in Justin Herbert's NFL career with the Chargers and expressed a desire to do the same, whether Chicago sticks with incumbent quarterback Justin Fields, who is entering his fourth NFL season, or transitions to a rookie quarterback.

"I think I'm just a friendly guy," Allen said. "I'm a friendly guy on and off the field. Obviously on the football field, I know the game. I know the ins and outs, I know the zones, I know how to beat man, I know pretty much how to play the game. I just think I'm friendly for the quarterback because I'll be in the right spots. I know how to communicate with him, and my body language is solid too."