Report: Chase Claypool Deemed ‘Distraction’ In Locker Room, Trade Had Been On Table For Weeks

We’re getting new information on what led to Pittsburgh Steelers’ WR Chase Claypool being shipped to Chicago. On the surface, the deal may feel like a surprise with recent reports adamant the team wanted to hold onto him. But Josina Anderson offers a different angle, noting a disgruntled Claypool unhappy with his role in the Steelers’ offense.

In a series of tweets she sent out following the deal, Anderson notes Claypool wanted to be a #1 receiver and was viewed as a “distraction” in the Steelers’ locker room. According to her, Pittsburgh’s been laying the groundwork for a trade the last two weeks, finally agreeing to a deal hours before today’s deadline.

Claypool’s name has certainly been involved in trade rumors for weeks now. While he was most heavily linked to the Green Bay Packers, he’ll instead go to another NFC North team in the 3-5 Chicago Bears, still battling for a Wild Card spot in a weaker NFC while having Claypool under contract through at least 2023. The Bears lack weapons in the passing game and Claypool should have an elevated and concentrated role there, more than what he had in Pittsburgh.

Anderson later tweeted the Bears made an initial offer this morning that the Steelers declined. So the Bears, believing they were in a bidding war, offered a second-round pick.

Claypool had a difficult 2021 season. His name consistently in the headlines for the wrong reasons, everything from suggesting music during practice as a way to fix the Steelers’ struggles to infamously signaling first down in the middle of a two-minute drill against Minnesota, costing Pittsburgh precious seconds and then blowing up at a teammate after the ensuing play.

This season, Claypool moved to a “big slot” role to replace the departed JuJu Smith-Schuster. No longer a deep threat, his numbers had come down, averaging under ten yards per grab after sitting at 14+ per reception his first two years in the league. In a new and probably uncomfortable spot, it’s logical he was unhappy with his role, running option routes underneath while George Pickens absorbed the vertical shots in the Steelers’ offense.

Getting a second round pick out of Claypool is tremendous value and a deal the Steelers couldn’t pass up. By Anderson’s reporting, it sounds like Pittsburgh and Claypool were both eager for a fresh start.

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