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Bears' shocking Keenan Allen trade sends resounding message to Caleb Williams, NFL

Bears' shocking Keenan Allen trade sends resounding message to Caleb Williams, NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Actions speak louder than words, and with the stunning trade for Keenan Allen on Thursday night, Bears general manager Ryan Poles sent a clear message to his presumptive future franchise quarterback and the rest of the league.

At the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, USC star quarterback Calen Williams said he had only one thing he wanted to find out about Poles and the Bears before they likely select him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

"Just do you want to win?" Williams said.

The Bears will sit down with Williams at USC's Pro Day on March 20 and host him for a top-30 visit shortly after that. Williams and the Bears will get a better feel for each other over the next month, but in adding Allen, who is in the backend of his prime, Poles signaled he's willing to surround Williams with everything needed to find quick success and that the Bears are ready to win ... now.

The Bears paid a small price to acquire Allen, sending the Los Angeles Chargers a 2024 fourth-round pick for the star receiver, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago. The addition gives the Bears two elite wide receivers who perfectly complement each other: DJ Moore and Allen.

Weapons and protection are a young quarterback's best friend. Williams now will have two of the best in the NFL when he arrives. With Allen, Moore, tight ends Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett, and running backs D'Andre Swift, Roschon Johnson, and Khalil Herbert, Williams, should he be the selection, will have a talented cast surrounding him.

The Bears also still own the No. 9 overall pick, which they could use on another elite wide receiver, a top-tier left tackle, or an edge rusher to fill a hole on the defense opposite Montez Sweat.

Allen, 31, is one of the best route runners in the NFL. He is a savvy veteran receiver with great hands who will play off Moore perfectly.

In his 11-year career, Allen has amassed 10,530 yards and scored 59 touchdowns. He has eclipsed 1,000 yards in five of the past seven seasons and is coming off the second-best season of his career, in which he caught 108 passes for 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns.

Allen is in the final year of his contract, and the Bears will inherit around $23 million in cap costs this year for the veteran. A short-term extension could be in order to lessen the cap hit and keep Allen around as part of the immediate core the Bears appear to be building around Williams.

Landing the No. 1 pick and the right to select Williams is a unique opportunity. Over the last 30 years, the Bears have been the poster child for poor quarterback development. That appears to be at an end.

Poles understands the rarity of the moment in front of the Bears franchise. Williams is a special talent who can be the lynchpin for a decade-plus of success. But the Bears must do their part to ensure he reaches the lofty potential many around the league believe is in his future.

Williams wants to know if the Bears will do what it takes to win. To give him what's needed to elevate the franchise to new heights.

In making a splash for Allen, Poles answered that question and signaled that the Bears believe their window to contend is starting to open, and it should stay that way for quite some time.

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