Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool is gearing up for what could be a monster second season in 2021, after setting or tying several team rookie records a year ago. The second-round pick out of Notre Dame recorded 62 receptions in 2020 for 931 yards with nine receiving touchdowns, with two rushing touchdowns. He had another two receiving touchdowns in the postseason.
The team was able to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster, the leader of their wide receiver group, on a one-year deal, leaving them stout at the top of the depth chart, which also features third-year Diontae Johnson and James Washington, going into the final year of his rookie deal.
But he wouldn’t mind some company, as he evidently told TMZ Sports recently during a run-in meeting on the streets of Beverly Hills. He was asked about Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones’ trade availability as players around the league try to recruit him, to which he responded, “I would love to have him in Pittsburgh”.
Of course, that’s a standard answer to the question. Every team in the league would love to have Julio Jones, one of the greatest talents of this era. But it’s not realistic for most of them, and that includes the Steelers. They don’t even remotely have the salary cap flexibility, for one thing, nor would they be willing to give up the resources it would require to trade for him.
And they also really don’t need him with the top four wide receivers they are already bringing back for 2021. “We’re stacked”, Claypool said himself, though he added, “you can never have too many superstars”.
The sixth-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Jones has recorded 848 receptions over the past 10 years for 12896 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns. Injuries limited him to just nine games last year, however, during which he finished the season with 51 receptions for 771 yards and three scores.
Between the 2014-2019 seasons, Jones caught 623 passes for 9388 yards with 37 touchdowns. That comes out to an average of 108 receptions for 1633 yards and six touchdowns per 16 games.
But he’s also due to earn $15.3 million in base salary for the 2021 season, all of which is guaranteed, and he has salaries of $11,513,000 on the books for 2022 and 2023 as well. He has $2 million of his 2022 salary guaranteed.
Needless to say, Claypool being asked about Julio Jones and him answering the question amounts to nothing, but frankly, other people are going to cover it, so we’re going to have to cover it, too. It’s a fun thing to think about, just like it was about bringing in tackle Russell Okung before he curbstomped any thoughts of that being anything more than a fantasy.