Ryan Poles Speaks to Bears’ Extension Plans for WR Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen, Bears

Getty Wide receiver Keenan Allen of the Chicago Bears.

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t said whether a new deal for wide receiver Keenan Allen is coming, though if one does, Poles has made it clear that it won’t arrive anytime soon.

Poles appeared on the Friday, May 3 edition of the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN Chicago, during which the hosts asked him about a new deal for Allen who is entering the final year of his contract in 2024.

“We’re just going to keep it moving through the season and see how everything plays out,” Poles said. “There isn’t a sense of urgency there right now, but we’ll see how everything unfolds as we get into the season.”

Poles went on to reveal that the two sides have spoken, though he didn’t divulge the details of those conversations Friday, adding that the team has a “good relationship” with Allen’s agent. The GM also acknowledged the Bears want Allen to play in Chicago before signing him to a new deal that would carry the wideout into his mid-30s, but Poles did not elaborate further.

Keenan Allen Presents Concerns to Bears Via Age, Injury History

Keenan Allen

GettyChicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen.

The two primary concerns for the Bears when it comes to a new deal for Allen are his age and recent injury history.

Allen recently turned 32 years old and will play his 12th NFL season in 2024. The previous 11 all came with the Los Angeles Chargers franchise, formerly of San Diego.

A standout performer for most of his career, Allen grew into a perennial Pro Bowler over its second half. He earned the honor six times over the last seven years, including in 2023 when he hauled in 108 receptions for 1,243 yards and 7 TDs across just 13 games.

While Allen’s production over essentially 3/4 of a season is reason to be impressed and makes a case for a lucrative new deal, the fact that he missed four games due to injury argues the opposite. The one time the wideout failed to make the Pro Bowl in the last seven campaigns was the year prior, in 2022, when he missed seven of 17 regular-season contests because of injury.

Extending Keenan Allen Ahead of Season Would Give Bears Flexibility to Add Talent

Keenan Allen, Chargers

GettyChicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen.

That he missed 11 of the last 34 games is more than enough reason to give Chicago pause on an extension for Allen, and proving his health to the franchise is a reasonable sticking point before the Bears offer a new contract.

That said, the team gave up a fourth-round pick for Allen in trade this offseason and could save considerable coin by restructuring the final year of his $80.1 million deal, which would be a potential benefit of adding more seasons to his contract now. As it stands, Allen carries a $23.1 million salary cap hit in 2024, while the Bears have approximately $22.8 million in available space as of Friday.

Chicago had an excellent draft, adding No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams, as well as landing a running mate for Allen and DJ Moore in receiver Rome Odunze with the 9th pick in the first round. The team also selected left tackle Kiran Amegadjie in the third round and edge rusher Austin Booker out of Kansas in round five — specifically addressing two premier positions of need.

Despite those additions, the Bears could still use reinforcements on the offensive line alongside Amegadjie and prospective starters Braxton Jones (left tackle) and Darnell Wright (right tackle), especially considering the team’s new investment in Williams. Another established pass rusher to play opposite Pro Bowler Montez Sweat also figures to be high on Chicago’s list of priorities this summer.

Lowering Allen’s cap hit through an extension would allow the Bears the flexibility to pursue upgrades at one position, or both, if the right player(s) is available in free agency.

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