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2022 South Side Questions: Could Steelers Really Trade Chase Claypool Before Deadline?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Could the Steelers really trade Chase Claypool before the trade deadline?

Chase Claypool, the third-year wide receiver, is coming off one of his better games in a while, and perhaps one of the very best of his career. He finished with seven receptions on seven targets for 96 yards and a touchdown. Within that performance was four third-down conversions, including three of 11-plus yards.

Obviously, that means that the Steelers are going to trade him now, right? That’s how it works: a player has a big game and then you try to sell him while his value is at the highest you can expect it to get. Of course, the Steelers have to believe they’re getting value in return commensurate with what they’re giving up.

Pittsburgh is not averse to trading talented wide receivers, but not cheaply. They held out for a third-round pick before dealing Martavis Bryant. I don’t know that anybody is going to offer anything close to that for Claypool, who has three touchdowns since the start of the 2021 season.

There are reports that there is a market for him, and even suggestions that the Steelers would listen to offers, but how plausible is it that an offer comes? A selling point for teams looking to acquire Claypool is that he still has another year under contract.

But you know who that’s also a selling point for? The Steelers. Because they have a young new franchise quarterback in Kenny Pickett. They’ll probably want to have talent around him. Yes, they have Diontae Johnson under contract through 2023 and rookie George Pickens through 2024, but is there such a thing as too many talented wide receivers?

Then again, Pittsburgh also has rookie Calvin Austin III, a player who potentially offers a different dimension from the rest of the group, whereas Claypool’s game overlaps more with a player like Pickens, who clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Needless to say, in order for this to even be a conversation, it has to be about the return for value. They’re not going to trade Claypool for a sixth-round pick. Even if you argue that the 2022 season is a lost cause, just look at what the Cincinnati Bengals did in Joe Burrow’s second year. And what did they do? They surrounded him with talent at the skill positions.

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