The Bears have finally added a wide receiver for Justin Fields. After settling for mid-level free agents this offseason, Chicago made a splash hours ahead of the 2022 NFL trade deadline, landing Chase Claypool from the Steelers, according to ESPN. The move, since confirmed by CBS Sports HQ NFL insider Josina Anderson, nets Pittsburgh a 2023 second-round draft pick. The pick is Chicago's own, not the one the team acquired from the Ravens in the Roquan Smith deal.
The Green Bay Packers appeared poised to make a move for Claypool, before the Bears swooped in and made the deal, sources told Anderson. According to NFL Media, the Packers also offered the Steelers a second-rounder.
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2020, Claypool had been a popular subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, with Pittsburgh leaning more on Diontae Johnson and rookie George Pickens out wide. The third-year veteran, who's signed through 2023 on his rookie contract, topped 800 receiving yards in each of his first two NFL seasons.
Claypool once looked as if he might emerge as the Steelers' new No. 1 during JuJu Smith-Schuster's final days in Pittsburgh, catching nine touchdown passes as a rookie. He remained a big piece of the team's passing game in 2021, when he averaged 14.6 yards per catch as a full-time starter. But his production dipped in 2022 as Pittsburgh rotated between Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett at quarterback, and he several times during his short-lived Steelers career drew criticism for untimely penalties.
In Chicago, however, Claypool figures to slot in as an instant starter opposite Darnell Mooney. The Bears haven't gotten much production from receivers other than Mooney this year, even though they added several notable veterans, including former Packers and Chiefs reserves Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle, respectively.
Hey look, a receiver for the young QB! Chicago deserves props for at least acknowledging the need and giving Justin Fields another legitimate target downfield. Claypool certainly has the physical talent to be a spicy complement to Darnell Mooney. The question is, do they still need a true No. 1? Probably. In that case, a second-rounder is a relatively steep price to pay for a guy who had an uneven, occasionally undisciplined run in Pittsburgh.
Are they better without him? Not necessarily. But the Steelers deserve the benefit of the doubt in pretty much any move involving receivers, considering the way they draft and develop starting-caliber pass catchers. Claypool seemed to hit his peak in their system, and George Pickens is already primed to give them more juice as a starter opposite Diontae Johnson. Look at this way: three years after drafting him, the Steelers are basically getting back what they paid for Claypool.