Chicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen ready to make an impact, whether for one season or more

Allen joins Bears after 11 season with Los Angeles Chargers

Chicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen warms up during NFL football practice at the team's minicamp in Lake Forest, Ill., Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Keenan Allen has made plenty of adjustments since the Bears traded for the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in March.

He’s taking part in an offseason for a team other than the Los Angeles Chargers for the first time in his 12-year NFL career. He’s a member of a team not based in California for the first time since 2010. And he’s playing football away from his family for the first time in his career.

But despite all the changes – on top of having one year left on his contract – Allen has kept “the main thing the main thing.” He’s ready to make an impact with the Bears, whether for a year or more.

“That’s the goal right now,” Allen said during last week’s minicamp, “is to go out and do what I always do and just try to remain who I am.”

The Bears are hoping Allen can remain who he’s been throughout his career after general manager Ryan Poles traded a 2024 fourth-round pick for him. Allen earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection last season after finishing with 1,243 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, both the second most in his career.

Part of what makes Allen special is his elite route-running ability. Bears coach Matt Eberflus called Allen “crafty” with his route running because Allen understands his body and knows how to get open mostly up the middle with his 6-foot-2 frame.

The other part is his intelligence. Bears wide receivers coach Chris Beatty spent three seasons with Allen with the Chargers in the same role before joining the Bears this year. Beatty was one of the first people Allen talked to after the trade and is excited for the knowledge Allen can pass down to younger players.

“He’s seen it all and done it all,” Beatty said. “He’s one of those guys that everyone can lean on because there’s not a look out there that he hasn’t seen, and he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve been around. He’s a great coach off the field.”

FILE - Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) rushes past Detroit Lions linebacker Jack Campbell (46) during an NFL football game Sunday, November 12, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. The Chicago Bears are acquiring wide receiver Keenan Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers for a fourth-round pick, people informed of the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday, March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

Bears from both sides of the ball have been listening during minicamp and some offseason activities. Tight end Cole Kmet said he watched highlights of Allen running routes growing up. But as a teammate now, he’s tried to model his habits to Allen’s after watching how he continues to perform at an elite level later in his career.

The Bears’ defense has gotten in on the learning, too. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson said he learned a lot competing against D.J. Moore last year. Now that he can work against Allen, Johnson has asked him questions to understand one of the most unpredictable wideouts in the NFL.

“As skillful as a lot of these guys are in this league that do a lot of great things, I feel like they are not as unpredictable, they are not as crafty as I feel like [Allen] is,” Johnson said. “So being able to go against that every day, I think it’s something that can help me and [our defensive backs] to get better.”

But most coaches and Bears fans will monitor Allen’s relationship with rookie quarterback Caleb Williams. Allen attended Williams’ USC Pro Day, and the two worked out together over the offseason and plan to do so again before the Bears reconvene for training camp next month.

“That’s the goal right now is to go out and do what I always do and just try to remain who I am.”

—  Keenan Allen, Bears wide receiver

Allen built strong relationships with Phllip Rivers and Justin Herbert with the Chargers, which helped him become one of the top receivers in the league. But Allen said it’ll take time to reach that level.

“It’s going to be a work in progress,” Allen said. “Nothing was made the next day, or came out right away with chemistry, so it’s going to take some time.”

How long the two will work together remains a question. The wide receivers market got reset this year with top contracts to the Minnesota Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle, Philadelphia Eagles’ A.J. Brown and Detroit Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Allen didn’t have a specific number when asked how much longer he wanted to play but did say he wants to play as long as he can. He’s also open to signing with the Bears after feeling “nothing but love” since the team acquired him.

Whether that love continues after this season remains to be seen.

“I’m going to let the play speak for itself,” Allen said. “And if they offer me something that I like, we’ll go from there.”

• Reporter Sean Hammond contributed to this report.

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is a sports enterprise reporter for Shaw Local, covering the CCL/ESCC for Friday Night Drive and other prep sports for the Northwest Herald. He also is a Chicago Bears contributing writer. He previously was the sports editor for the Glenview Lantern, Northbook Tower and Malibu Surfside News.