On Friday, the 1-4 Bears dealt Claypool to the Miami Dolphins in a late-round pick swap. The Dolphins will receive Claypool and a 2025 seventh-round pick for a 2025 sixth-round pick, pending a physical, the team announced.
The move comes after the Bears made Claypool inactive the previous two games, keeping him away from the team while they sought out a trade partner.
Many around the league figured the Bears would have to release Claypool, who gave the Bears 18 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown in his 10-game tenure in Chicago. The Steelers were happy to rid themselves of him, and the Bears left him at home the last two games. But Miami clearly believes it can get something out of him for the late-round pick swap.
In Week 1, Claypool showed disinterest running routes on which he wouldn't get the ball, and he showed similar lackadaisical effort on blocking. Heading into the Bears' Week 4 game, Claypool said the team wasn't using him to the best of his abilities. Chicago told Claypool to stay home after that.
Claypool is now on his third team in the past 365 days.
Midseason last year, the Bears were in need of adding a receiver who could help Justin Fields flourish. The new regime there had to figure out what they had in their young quarterback on a rookie deal, and the team forecasted a weak free-agent receiver market come the spring. The Steelers had Claypool on the market two-and-a-half years into his time there.
So the Bears got aggressive and outbid the Packers for Claypool. Chicago had two second-round picks but wound up giving its own second -- as opposed to Baltimore's second from the Roquan Smith trade -- in order to secure the rights to Claypool.
Of course, the Bears went winless for the remainder of the season. And the pick they thought could be in the 40s turned out to be pick No. 32.
A league source said Claypool needs hard coaching. He needs to be someone where there's "a thumb on him" because he will exhaust a team's resources.
Claypool gets a clean slate in Miami, and the Bears move forward with their first win in nearly a year under their belts.
Here's how CBS Sports grades out the deal:
This was an absolute nightmare acquisition for Chicago. The club traded its own second-round pick to the Steelers for Claypool at the deadline last year and, because they were the worst team in the league, that proved to be an extremely valuable selection. Instead of being in the range of pass catchers like tight end Sam LaPorta or Jonathan Mingo in the draft (or selecting Joey Porter Jr. as the Steelers did), the Bears got just 18 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown during Claypool's tenure. Not only did Claypool lack production, but he was not helping the chemistry within the locker room and was criticized for his lack of hustle at times. Credit to the Bears for at least getting something in return, but this is a failure of a trade no matter how you slice it.
This is a curious decision on the part of the Dolphins. While it's typically a savvy move to buy low on a distressed asset like Claypool, it'll be interesting to see how he meshes with Miami. Claypool was upset with his lack of role within the Bears offense and will now at best be playing third-fiddle to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and competing with the likes of Braxton Berrios for targets. Is that a situation he will embrace or will Claypool be disgruntled similarly to his time with the Bears? For a team that seems to have a stellar culture under Mike McDaniel, that could be a risk. That said, Claypool is still just 25 years old and has productive seasons under his belt. If the Dolphins can tap back into that player, their offense will be even more dangerous. For essentially a swap of Day 3 picks, it's worth the dice roll.