Allen greatly improves Bears’ receiving corps

Bears training camp is only a week away. Veteran players report for camp July 19 and practices begin July 20. The much-anticipated 2024 season is nearly here.

Counting down the top five most important Bears players in 2024, what makes one player more important than another?

Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

The best player on the team isn’t always the most important, but he certainly can be. Check back all week to see the top five most important players.

Here’s a look at No. 4 on the list, wide receiver Keenan Allen.

Looking back

In what was possibly the team’s biggest surprise move of the offseason, the Bears sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for Allen during free agency in March. The 11-year NFL veteran has topped 1,000 yards in a season six times, including last season. In a year that was limited to only 13 games because of a heel injury, Allen still totaled 108 receptions, 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 32-year-old comes to Chicago with one year remaining on his contract. The Bears will pay him $23 million for one season. The two sides don’t appear to be in a hurry to lock down a long-term extension. The Bears probably want to see how Allen gels with DJ Moore, Caleb Williams and the rest of the offense before handing any more money to one of the NFL’s oldest wide receivers.

Allen has spent all 11 of his NFL seasons with the Chargers. The Chargers drafted him with a third-round pick in 2013, back when they still were based in San Diego.

Looking forward

Allen teams up with Moore and first-round draft pick Rome Odunze at receiver. The Bears are hoping this trio can emerge as the organization’s best receiving corps in years. Having two Pro Bowl-caliber veterans like Allen and Moore will only help a rookie quarterback like Williams.

If Williams and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron are going to elevate the Bears’ passing attack, they’re going to need Allen to have a big season. General manager Ryan Poles has made significant additions to the offense with the hope of improving a passing attack that ranked 27th last year. If this is going to work, Allen could be a big reason why.

That makes it all the more important to keep Allen healthy. With an older player at a skill position like wide receiver, it’s pretty much assumed Allen will miss a game here or there due to various bumps and bruises during the season. Allen hasn’t played a full season since 2019. He has missed 11 games over the past two seasons. The Bears will be fine if he misses a game or two, but Allen needs to avoid missing significant time.

Allen has made his living as an elite slot receiver. That’s exactly what the Bears need. Moore is a magician on the outside, and Odunze looks like he could develop into one too. Having a rock-solid slot receiver will make moving the chains so much easier. Allen could become Williams’ best friend on the field.

If the Bears are going to take a step forward in the passing game, they will need Allen to continue playing at the top of his game.

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