The Los Angeles Chargers are strapped for cash and a recent report from The Athletic suggests the team might cut wide receiver Keenan Allen. Allen, of course, is one of the more important players on the roster, but releasing him would free up a much-needed $17.5 million in cap space. So, is the 30-year-old wideout still worth that type of money?
Why the Chargers Should (And Shouldn’t) Cut Keenan Allen
Why They Should
Before the 2023 league year begins, the Chargers need to get below the salary cap. The team needs to find a way to clear $20.2 million and designating Keenan Allen as a post-June 1st cut would clear $17.5 million off the books. Even if they don’t use the June 1st designation, the team can still save $14.8 million by moving on from the fan-favorite receiver.
Of course, cap space doesn’t win football games – players do. If the Chargers could guarantee that the 2013-2022 version of Keenan Allen showed up in 2023, then they would not even consider cutting him. However, Allen is on the wrong side of 30, which means that he is much closer to the end of his football journey than the beginning. Perhaps the team believes that the injuries which caused him to miss seven games last year will become more frequent as his body ages, or that the bumps and bruises accumulated over the years will take away some of his athleticism. Allen was never the fastest player in the league, so if he loses some of his short-area quickness and route-running skills, he’ll have a hard time justifying his current contract.
The NFL is a business at the end of the day, and the fact that Allen is one of the most accomplished Chargers in recent memory won’t matter for anything if the front office believes he won’t perform in 2023. As sad as it is, the best teams in the league are the ones that move away from a player one year too early, rather than one year too late.
Why They Shouldn’t
Even though he is getting older, Keenan Allen is still a good football player and plays one of the most important positions in the game. Yes, the injury bug bit in 2022, but he was still a great player when on the field. Allen’s 84.4 PFF grade was ninth-best in the league, while his 2.35 yards per route ranked 13th among eligible receivers. These metrics show that Allen is still capable of playing at a near-elite level, and it’s highly unlikely that he suddenly forgets how to play football overnight.
“Keenan Allen is washed.” 🤷♂️ I’ll take him in a heartbeat on the #Browns lol pic.twitter.com/UTIF9gFQDo
— Zach D (@ZachNoah52) February 6, 2023
Additionally, we’ve seen what this offense looks like without Allen, and it isn’t pretty. The wide receiver missed seven games last year, and the Chargers passing game collapsed without him. To be fair, Allen’s injury also coincided with Justin Herbert and Mike Williams battling various ailments, but the fact remains that Allen is a vital part of the passing attack. It would be one thing if Los Angeles had another receiver waiting in the wings, but they really don’t. As it is, the Chargers could stand to add another receiver, and cutting Allen would only make a weak position on the depth chart even shallower.
Yes, the Chargers need to clear cap space, but they can cut other players to do it. Alternatively, the team could also trade JC Jackson and free $12 million in cap space. Ultimately, while the idea of cutting Keenan Allen isn’t as ridiculous as you might think, the fact remains that Allen is still a good football player, and the team him on the roster if they want to compete for a Super Bowl.
Main Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck – USA Today Sports