Chargers’ Keenan Allen looks to show extension was worth it

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Keenan Allen celebrated his four-year, $80.1 million extension with Taco Tuesday and a margarita.

Even though the Chargers wide receiver took a low-key approach to mark becoming one of the league’s highest-paid receivers, he is hoping to show opposing defenses soon why he was rewarded.

Allen goes into Sunday’s opener against Cincinnati looking to surpass last year’s numbers — he tied for the AFC lead in catches (104) and was third in yards (1,199). But despite three straight trips to the Pro Bowl, along with being tied for third in the league in receptions and fourth in yards since 2017, Allen isn’t frequently mentioned among the top receivers in the game.

He might be underrated by fans, but he certainly has the respect of players.

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“He’s a quarterback’s best friend and one of the top wide receivers in this league,” quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the league that can pick and guard him one on one.”

Allen said discussions about an extension started shortly after Joey Bosa agreed to a five-year contract that made him the league’s highest-paid defensive player. Allen’s $20 million average per season puts him second among receivers on average pay. It is also a great extension for a player on his third contract and should allow Allen to finish his career with the Chargers, who drafted him in the third round in 2013.

“It is really gratifying,” he said. “I was pretty confident with the body of work that I have put in the past couple years that it would get done. We were really pushing for it throughout camp.”

The Allen signing also completed a pretty good offseason for the front office. Besides the Bosa and Allen extensions, the Chargers were active in free agency with the additions of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

“I’m happy for the organization because we were able to remain aggressive in an uncertain environment,” general manager Tom Telesco said. “Everyone has seen Keenan play here. His game is very polished. He is a big-time playmaker.”

After seven seasons with Philip Rivers, Allen has a new quarterback as Taylor takes over. Allen said it will be different, but that it does open up the offense more because of Taylor’s ability as a dual-threat quarterback.

“You have to guard all 11 guys now because he is capable of extending plays and breaking down the defense with his legs,” Allen said.

Notes: C Mike Pouncey did not practice for a second straight day due to a hip injury he suffered during training camp. If Pouncey is unable to play, Dan Feeney will move to center and Forrest Lamp would likely get the start at left guard.

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