by Evan Bruner
The Chicago Bears finished off the trade deadline with another splash move, acquiring wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2023 second-round pick. Claypool, a second-round selection in the 2020 draft, has 32 catches for 311 yards and a touchdown on the year and recorded over 800 yards in each of his first two seasons.
Claypool fills an immediate need at wide receiver while also providing youth and upside. Listed at 6’4 238 pounds, he has the size to play on the outside while still possessing the speed to get by defenders. Claypool’s rare blend of size and speed is his selling point, since players pushing 240 pounds with 4.4 speed are hard to come by. This skill set also adds versatility to Claypool’s game.
Claypool played a variety of roles in his time in Pittsburgh. As a rookie, he excelled in the red zone, recording 11 total touchdowns and playing a pivotal role in the team’s 11-0 start. In 2021, Claypool saw more use in between the 20s as the team moved towards a run-heavy attack. Additionally, the emergence of Diontae Johnson prevented him from getting more targets.
Another aspect of Claypool’s game is as a rusher. As one might imagine, a player that big that can run that fast is very hard to bring down, which is why Pittsburgh made a concerted effort to get Claypool the ball, even if it wasn’t always through the air. He’s logged a total of 32 carries in his NFL career, so while this certainly isn’t his calling card, it’s something the Bears can tap into if needed.
The addition of Claypool will undoubtedly give the offense a much-needed boost, but there are questions of whether the Bears gave up too much. A second-round pick for a player who was widely seen as the third-best receiver on his team and only has one year remaining on his rookie contract may seem like a stretch. But beggars can’t be choosers. It’s been evident to anyone who’s turned on a Bears game this season that the team had a massive need at wide receiver.
First, people criticized General Manager Ryan Poles for not putting enough resources towards helping Justin Fields, and now people are concerned he gave up too much. The point is finding a balance between being too conservative and too aggressive can, at times, be impossible, and those who are afraid of going too far to make a move run the risk of never going far enough.
Trading for Claypool finally gives the Bears a player with “X” or WR1 traits. While the production hasn’t fully been there, he has the physical tools to potentially be a high-level receiver. For a wide receiver room that is deprived of talent, Claypool should make a day-one impact and provide a spark in the passing game.
As much as there is to talk about with Claypool as a player, to understand the whole meaning of the trade, we need to look at the big picture. This move is a sign of the front office’s belief in Justin Fields. Teams don’t just hand over high draft picks to try to help anyone. The fact the Bears were willing to give up major assets at the deadline for a receiver speaks volumes to the organization’s confidence in Fields and the future of Chicago Bears football.