At the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers sending WR Chase Claypool to Chicago for a 2nd round pick in next year’s draft looked like a home run for new general manager Omar Khan. Three weeks into the deal, things are only getting better for the Steelers. While Pittsburgh didn’t get much production from its new slot machine receivers, Claypool got next to nothing in Chicago.
In three games, he caught a total of five passes for 32 yards while participating in just one rushing attempt on his Bears debut that lasted just four yards.
Worse still, despite his acclimatization to the system, Claypool barely plays. Here’s his tally and percentage in his first three games in Chicago.
Chase Claypool Snap Count with Chicago
1st game – 26 Snaps (35%)
2nd game – 19 Snaps (31%)
3rd game – 29 Snaps (42%)
But the data goes further than that. He plays behind many names on the roster when the Bears made the trip for him. In his first game, he played fewer snaps than WR Dante Pettis. In his second game, where he had more time to adjust, he played the fewest snaps of any receiver that entered the game behind Pettis, Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle. And last Sunday, Claypool had the third-most snaps of any Bears receiver, but far fewer than St. Brown, who went 50 to 29 for Claypool.
Despite having more time in the system, Claypool’s targets have dropped since his debut, five targets over the past two games. He was much less productive with the Bears than he was with the Steelers and it’s not like he was super productive in Pittsburgh.
Even worse for the Bears are their results. Despite an offense that was better, thanks in part to the team’s commitment to Justin Fields in the running game, Chicago has lost all three games since acquiring Claypool. Tight losses, all by three points or less, but losses nonetheless. They are now 3-8 and last in the NFC South, much closer to the first overall pick than a Wild Card spot. According to the preliminary order prediction from Tankathon, the Steelers are expected to have the 34th pick in the draft which Actually is the 33rd pick thanks to the Miami Dolphins who lost their first-round pick this season as a result of their tampering with Tom Brady.
When the dust settles at the end of the year, Pittsburgh will likely have three picks around the top 40. Chicago will be without its first second-round pick (they have one later in the draft trade Roquan Smith) and they’J will have Claypool under contract only through the 2023 season. They will need to maximize that window and make the playoffs next season, far from guaranteed, while figuring out what to do with Claypool after the year. Trading for him and not inking him into a long-term deal will be a bad look at new GM Ryan Poles. And Bears fans, initially excited about the move, are beginning to realize the mistake their front office seems to have made.
All Steelers fans have to say is: we told you so.
For Pittsburgh, they missed Claypool. there is no doubt. But they got the best version of him his rookie year and flipped him for what will end up being a higher pick than they used to get him. And they’ll use that high second round to improve the trenches, find a top corner, something needed, and they’ll get it on a cheap four-year contract. Who knows what the future holds. Claypool catches a moving train and the more time he spends in Chicago, the more he will settle there. Maybe the player the Steelers use with this pick is the next Ricardo Colclough or Limas Sweed. But three weeks into the deal, it’s hard to say Omar Khan and the Steelers haven’t cheated the Bears.