Report: Bears Were Eyeing Former $60 Million WR Prior to Keenan Allen Signing

Fate is a funny thing.

The Chicago Bears made a splash on March 14, when they sent a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen. According to one insider covering the team, the Bears were interested in Allen’s former teammate, WR Mike Williams, before Allen became available.

Keenan Allen

In a March 26 appearance on 670 The Score’s Bernstein & Holmes, Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune said that Allen’s sudden availability “was a surprise that popped up on the radar,” for the Bears before dropping the following nugget:

“The Bears were actually interested in Mike Williams out in L.A. and were ultimately trying to get some more information on his recovery from the injury late last year. Then, all of a sudden, you get … a curveball, where Keenan Allen becomes available.”

Bears Likely Balked on Signing Mike Williams Due to Recent ACL Injury

Due to salary cap constraints, the Chargers released Williams on March 13. His three-year, $60 million contract was one of the team’s heftier ones, and it was a big reason for his release.

Williams is younger than Allen (he’s 29, while Allen turns 32 in April), and at 6’4″ and 218 pounds, he’s slightly larger than the 6’2″, 211-pound Allen.

But Bears general manager Ryan Poles was apparently concerned about Williams’ recovery after the veteran wideout tore his ACL Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings last season. Williams expects to be back by Week 1 of the 2024 season, but training camp is unlikely.

Shortly after Williams was released, talk of the Chargers making Allen available via trade began. That apparently piqued Poles’ interest.

“(The Bears) were kind of operating down different avenues to bolster their receiving corps, and when the Chargers had to make some of the moves that they had to make, within hours, Ryan had to pivot and say: ‘OK, (trading for Allen) is the direction that we want to go and we have the ability to go get it done,’” Wiederer added.

Williams has since inked a deal with the New York Jets. He has two 1,000-yard seasons in his seven years in the league. His best year came in 2021, when he caught 76 passes for 1,146 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns.

Will Bears Sign WR Keenan Allen to a Contract Extension?
When the Bears made the decision to pivot to Allen, they also elected to take on his $23.1 million cap hit. Chicago also has a huge decision looming regarding signing Allen to an extension.

Allen is getting older, but you couldn’t tell by looking at the stat sheet. The veteran receiver is coming off one of the best seasons of his career after hauling in a career-high 108 passes for 1,243 yards (11.5 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns in 13 games.

After working for the Kansas City Chiefs in scouting and executive roles from 2009-2022, Poles has seen what Allen is capable for awhile now, as the Chiefs and Chargers are both in the AFC West.

“Keenan Allen tortured the Chiefs” while Poles was in Kansas City, Wiederer noted, adding:

“(Allen’s) film from last year showed a player that hasn’t lost much, if anything even as he gets older and onward in his career.”

If things go well early on, don’t be surprised if Poles keeps Allen around at least a few more seasons, if not for the remainder of his career.

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