He had just signed a four-year contract extension worth up to $80.1 million.
So, how did Keenan Allen celebrate this week?
“I had a little splurge,” Allen said Thursday. “Not really a splurge, but a Taco Tuesday mixed with a little margarita, you know.”
A toast certainly was earned, the new deal giving Allen the second-highest annual average salary among wide receivers.
In locking down the team’s top pass-catcher, general manager Tom Telesco capped a financially active preseason. On the eve of practice opening, the Chargers signed defensive end Joey Bosa to a five-year, $135-million extension.
“It means everything,” Allen said of staying with the Chargers. “They were the guys that drafted me, that gave me a chance, gave me my first opportunity. Being able to stay here with the organization I started with, all the relationships I have in the building, it’s major.”
The Chargers selected Allen in the third round of the 2013 draft. He had a 1,000-yards receiving season as a rookie and then caught a team-high 77 passes in his second year.
But a pair of significant injuries — a lacerated kidney and a torn ACL — limited him to nine games during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Allen, 28, since has had three consecutive seasons with at least 97 receptions and 1,196 yards.
“His game is very polished — down-in, down-out,” Telesco said. “Doesn’t matter inside or outside, first down, second down, third down. He’s a big-time playmaker and someone we’re thrilled to have here for a long time.”
Allen said negotiations on his deal started after the Chargers re-signed Bosa in early August. He said he and his agent “were pushing for it in negotiations pretty much the whole [training] camp.”
After suffering those major injuries in back-to-back seasons, Allen said he changed his approach to training and adjusted his diet. He explained that he continued to evolve this offseason by intensifying his work in the weight room.
“Keenan’s happy,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “We’re happy. He’s a heck of a football player. Just glad it worked out.”
Allen, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has built his reputation on precise route-running and a willingness to block. At 6 foot 2, 211 pounds, he routinely can be spotted sacrificing for the benefit of the Chargers’ run game.
“He’s very unselfish,” Lynn said. “He doesn’t mind throwing his body around for his teammates. He plays when he’s hurt, just a very unselfish teammate.”
Along with the Allen and Bosa extensions, the Chargers also reworked the contract of defensive end Melvin Ingram last month to guarantee his $14-million 2020 salary.
In discussing Allen’s situation, Telesco made a point to mention owner Dean Spanos and his willingness to commit money during a COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted so much of everyday life.
“I’m also happy for the organization … remaining aggressive in a very uncertain environment,” Telesco said. “… Not only the financial resources but the support and trust for us trying to put a championship-level team together.”
Center Mike Pouncey didn’t practice again Thursday as he continues to deal with a hip injury. Pouncey has had surgery on both hips and, when he was with the Miami Dolphins in 2017, told reporters that doctors had said he’d likely need replacement surgery in the next “five to 10 years.”
Without Pouncey on Sunday in Cincinnati, the Chargers likely would start Dan Feeney at center and Forrest Lamp at left guard. Pouncey, 31, signed a one-year extension before the opener last season and has a base salary of $6 million in 2020. He can become a free agent after this year.
Wide receiver Mike Williams (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice and could play against the Bengals. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga was added to the Chargers’ injury report because of a hamstring issue that limited him.
Cornerback Casey Hayward on being selected as a team captain for this season: “I feel like that might be the biggest honor that you can have as a teammate. … There have been some really good captains around here. Now, you try to lead as best you can, especially in this pandemic.”…The Chargers added undrafted rookie defensive end Joe Gaziano to their practice squad.