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Chargers extend Keenan Allen’s contract by four years, up to $80 million

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen participates in a drill during a training session Aug. 19 in Costa Mesa.
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen participates in a drill in August at their training facility in Costa Mesa.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

On the day NFL rosters shrunk, the Chargers’ commitment to Keenan Allen expanded.

The team and its No. 1 wide receiver agreed Saturday on a four-year extension worth up to $80 million, $50 million of which is guaranteed.

Allen, 28, has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons, a stretch during which he has caught 303 passes for 3,788 yards and 18 touchdowns.

He was unsigned beyond 2020, entering the final season of a four-year, $45-million deal signed in June 2016.

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“I don’t think he gets a lot of recognition,” Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward said of Allen last month. “He should have made a couple All-Pros, if you’re looking at the numbers and things like that.”

The annual average of Allen’s extension ($20 million) trails only Atlanta’s Julio Jones ($22 million) among NFL wide receivers.

The Chargers cut veteran receiver Darius Jennings, who also returns kicks. That means rookie Joe Reed potentially could take over that role.

The Chargers announced that Allen had signed his new contract about 90 minutes before submitting their list of roster cuts to reach the NFL-mandated 53-player limit Saturday afternoon.

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The most prominent among those released were offensive lineman Trent Scott and wide receiver Darius Jennings.

Scott started 10 games the last two years because of injuries to others after being undrafted out of Grambling State in 2018.

Jennings, who was entering his fourth season, signed a one-year deal with the Chargers in March.

He was expected to add speed and kickoff-return ability but ended up losing out to younger receivers Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, Jalen Guyton and Jason Moore.

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The position is one of uncertainty for the Chargers before the Sept. 13 opener at Cincinnati. A shoulder injury has clouded the status of receiver Mike Williams, a 1,000-yard receiver last season.

Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen on Thursday voiced optimism that Williams could be ready for Week 1 but nothing is certain.

The Chargers’ receiver group is headed by Allen, a third-round pick out of Cal in 2013, who had a 1,000-yard season as a rookie and then caught 77 passes his second year.

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But a pair of significant injuries — a lacerated kidney and a torn knee ligament — limited him to nine games total in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Since then, Allen has appeared in all 48 regular-season games the Chargers have played, establishing himself as one of the NFL’s most consistent offensive producers.

He has built his career on precise route-running, sure hands and a willingness to block.

Allen also has emerged in recent years as a walking tutorial for the Chargers’ other receivers.

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“The way he dissects defenses, how smart he is,” said Reed, when asked what he has observed about Allen the last few weeks. “It’s very easy to learn from him.”

Reed was a fifth-round pick out of Virginia in April. Hill, a seventh-round pick from Ohio State, explained last week that he has “tried to stay on his hip” in regard to learning from Allen.

The respect for the eighth-year pro around the NFL was reflected in the social-media reaction to his signing. Along with teammates and coaches, congratulations were extended by several opponents, including Philadelphia cornerback Darius Slay.

The Allen news continued a recent string of positive contract developments for the Chargers.

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The Chargers cut veteran receiver Darius Jennings, who also returns kicks. That means rookie Joe Reed potentially could take over that role.

They made pass rusher Joey Bosa the highest-paid defensive player in league history a month ago by signing him to a five-year, $135-million extension.

Then, early in training camp, they amended the contract of defensive end Melvin Ingram to guarantee his 2020 salary of $14 million. Ingram was sitting out practice pending that re-negotiation.

In setting their initial 53-man roster, the Chargers placed safety Derwin James on injured reserve. He recently underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee, the team announcing last week that he should be ready for the start of the 2021 season.

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The other Chargers who were released Saturday included several veterans: offensive linemen Ryan Groy and Cole Toner, running back Derrick Gore, linebacker Malik Jefferson, wide receiver Tyron Johnson and defensive back Quenton Meeks.

The remainder of the cuts were undrafted rookies: linebackers Asmar Bilal, Cole Christiansen and Romeo Finley; running backs Darius Bradwell, Gabe Nabers and Bobby Holly; cornerbacks John Brannon, Kevin McGill and Donte Vaughn; wide receivers Jeff Cotton and Dalton Schoen; defensive ends Joe Gaziano and Jessie Lemonier; guards Josh Dunlop and Nate Gilliam; nose tackle Breiden Fehoko; offensive tackle Ryan Roberts; and defensive tackle TJ Smith.

Several of the players released could be brought back Sunday to the Chargers’ practice squad, which the NFL is expanding this season to 16 spots as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In another change this year, up to six of those spots can go to players with more extensive NFL experience.

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The Chargers’ roster

Quarterbacks (3): Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert, Easton Stick

Running backs (3): Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Josh Kelley

Receivers (6): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, Jason Moore

Tight ends (4): Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Stephen Anderson, Donald Parham Jr.

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Offensive linemen: (10): Bryan Bulaga, Trai Turner, Mike Pouncey, Dan Feeney, Sam Tevi, Storm Norton, Forrest Lamp, Tyree St. Louis, Scott Quessenberry, Trey Pipkins

Defensive line (9): Joey Bosa, Justin Jones, Linval Joseph, Melvin Ingram, Isaac Rochell, Jerry Tillery, Cortez Broughton, Uchenna Nwosu, Damion Square

Outside linebackers (4): Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Nick Vigil, Emeke Egbule

Inside linebackers (2): Kenneth Murray Jr., Denzel Perryman

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Cornerbacks (5): Casey Hayward, Michael Davis, Chris Harris Jr., Brandon Facyson, Tevaughn Campbell

Safeties (4): Rayshawn Jenkins, Nasir Adderley, Desmond King, Alohi Gilman

Kicker (1): Michael Badgley

Punter (1): Ty Long

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Long snapper (1): Cole Mazza


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