Earlier this week, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN authored an article on under-the-radar offseason trade candidates and included in that list of 20 platers was Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool. On Thursday, Fowler, who is currently in Los Angeles, CA covering the Super Bowl LVI festivities before the big game on Sunday, was a guest on 93.7 The Fan and during his segment he was asked to expound on him having Claypool listed in that recent article of his.
“So, I would call it informed speculation, because it is very early so it’s hard to know like exactly what teams are going to trade,” Fowler said. “But just going through like talking to some other teams about some guys they might be looking for. You know, whether it’s teams, veteran agents, I just kind of asked around and that’s one of the names that came up because there obviously have been some maturity issues. Production was down slightly.
“You know, if you can get good value, maybe you explore it. I’m not saying he’s Martavis Bryant, but Martavis Bryant was a very talented, big, tall receiver – didn’t work out, they moved on. This guy, by no means saying he has the same issues as Bryant, but if it’s one of those things where all of a sudden you start to listen to an offer and then you get an offer, like it happens pretty quickly.”
So, Fowler essentially admitted that him including Claypool in his article on under-the-radar offseason trade candidates is just informed speculation on his part. That’s not really surprising, however, because he’s paid to do just that. Even so, what Fowler has written and said will likely be treated as hard news that the Steelers are very interested in trading away Claypool.
While Claypool may have some maturity issues following his second NFL season in Pittsburgh, he’s far from being the headache that Bryant was during the final few seasons he was with the Steelers. Remember, Bryant had been suspended by the NFL and his off-the-field actions resulted in the team ultimately trading him away to the Oakland Raiders. For the most part, Bryant was very talented when he was on the field, and it was a shame to see his career spiral out of control the way it did. Claypool’s maturity issues pale in comparison to Bryant’s and that’s a fact, not just idle speculation.
The Steelers could ultimately lose two or three of the wide receivers they had under contract last season as JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the start of the new league in March. For what it’s worth, Washington is very unlikely to return, and Smith-Schuster might just get a better deal from another team to warrant him leaving as well. Even if McCloud does re-sign, he’s really more of backup player than he is a starter. In short, it’s hard to imagine Claypool being traded away if the team fails to re-sign both Smith-Schuster and Washington prior to the draft taking place.
Claypool is also still on his rookie deal as well so it’s not like the Steelers couldn’t afford to carry his 2022 salary or cap charge. In short, one would think that the Steelers would need at least a third-round selection or better for Claypool to make it worth their while to trade him.
While stranger things have happened before, unless Claypool is included in some sort of pre-first-round trade that includes them moving up in that round, I will be surprised if the team ultimately deals their former second round draft pick out of Notre Dame this offseason. Consider that my own informed speculation.