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Keenan Allen unconcerned by QB dilemma as Caleb Williams-Justin Fields decision awaits

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — In 11 years with the Los Angeles Chargers, wide receiver Keenan Allen always produced, no matter who was throwing him the football. He started his career by catching passes from likely Hall of Famer Philip Rivers before transitioning to rising star Justin Herbert in 2020 after a brief cameo from Tyrod Taylor.

The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, whom the Bears acquired Thursday for a 2024 fourth-round pick, arrives in Chicago as the Bears are in the middle of solidifying their long-term quarterback plans.

Justin Fields showed growth in 2023. However, the Bears landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft via the Carolina Panthers and will have the opportunity to select USC star quarterback Caleb Williams. All signs point to the Bears moving on from Fields and tabbing Williams as the face of their franchise, but a final decision has not been publicly conveyed.

Allen arrives in Chicago in the final year of his contract. The soon-to-be 32-year-old receiver indicated that he envisions a future in Chicago past 2024 but doesn’t have a timeline for a potential contract extension. The current quarterback uncertainty in Chicago doesn’t phase him.

“Nah, not really,” Allen said Saturday during his introductory press conference at Halas Hall. “Justin [Herbert] wasn’t certain when he first got there. Obviously, we had the battle with him and Tyrod after Philip left, and Tyrod was the guy going into the season, and then Herbo had to step up and be as great as he is.”

Allen has watched Williams play and has been impressed by the talent that saw the USC star throw for 72 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions in the past two seasons at USC.

“Hell of an athlete,” Allen said of Williams. “Obviously, he can make tremendous plays with his feet, with his arm. Looks like he knows the game really well. Really good.”

If the Bears were to draft Williams, Allen knows he’ll be a massive help to a rookie quarterback just getting his feet wet in the NFL.

“I know the game. I know the ins and outs, I know the zones, I know how to beat man, I know pretty much how to play the game,” Allen said about what makes him quarterback-friendly. “I just think I’m friendly for the quarterback because I’ll be in the right spots. I know how to communicate with him, and my body language is solid, too.”

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While the quarterback situation remains up in the air, the Bears have quietly amassed an impressive group of skill players.

Allen joins an arsenal with star wide receiver DJ Moore and tight end Cole Kmet. The Bears also signed running back D’Andre Swift and tight end Gerald Everett to open free agency.

Allen sees the Bears’ skill group as one that can be special, with the pairing with Moore serving as the catalyst.

“Any time you’ve got two guys that can make plays and beat man coverage, it’s going to be tough,” Allen said of how he will complement Moore. “That’s any time. Obviously, he’s a guy who has made plays in this league for a long time, and myself as well. If you put both of us together, it’s going to be pretty good.”

The trade for Allen signals that the Bears believe they are ready to win now and that general manager Ryan Poles is committed to doing everything he can to surround Williams — assuming he’s the selection — with the necessary support to have a quick takeoff in the NFL.

Poles and the Bears aren’t the only ones who see the lights on the contention on-ramp flashing in Chicago. Allen also sees it.

“Absolutely,” Allen said when asked if the Bears are contenders. “When you start to see the roster shaping up the way it is, I think we’re going to have a good shot.”

Whether it’s Williams or Fields, the Bears will enter the 2024 season with a ton of hype and massive expectations. Adding Allen only increases the expectation that the time for patience and rebuilding is over.

No matter who the quarterback is, it’s time to win for the Bears.

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