The Chase Claypool Trade Keeps Looking Better For Pittsburgh

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 GM Omar Khan. Three weeks since the deal, it only looks better for the Steelers. While Pittsburgh hasn’t gotten much production from their new slot receivers, Claypool has done almost nothing in Chicago.

Through three games, he’s caught a total of five passes for 32 yards while chipping in a lone rushing attempt in his Bears’ debut that went for just four yards.

Worse yet, despite being acclimated into the system, Claypool is hardly playing. Here’s his snap count and percentage through 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 deeper than that. He’s playing behind many of the names on the roster when the Bears made the move for him. In his first game, he played fewer snaps than WR Dante Pettis. In his second game, where he had more time to get adjusted, he played the fewest snaps of any receiver who entered the game behind Pettis, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Byron Pringle. And this past Sunday, Claypool did log the third-most snaps of any Bears’ receiver but far less than St. Brown, who played 50 to Claypool’s 29.

Despite having more time in the system, Claypool’s targets have decreased since his debut, five targets over the past two games. He’s been far less productive with the Bears than he was with the Steelers and it’s not like he was uber-productive in Pittsburgh.

Even worse for the Bears are their outcomes. Despite an offense that has been better, in part thanks to the team committing to Justin Fields in the run game, Chicago has lost all three games since acquiring Claypool. Close defeats, all by three points or less, but losses all the same. They’re now 3-8 and last place in the NFC South, far closer to the first overall pick than a Wild Card spot. According to Tankathon’s draft order projection, the Steelers are projected to have the 34th pick in the draft which actually is the 33rd pick thanks to the Miami Dolphins forfeiting their first round pick this season in the wake of their Tom Brady tampering. 

When the dust settles at the end of the year, Pittsburgh is likely to have three picks around the top 40. Chicago will be without their original second round pick (they do have one later in the draft from the Roquan Smith trade) and they’ll have Claypool under contract only through the 2023 season. They’ll have 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 to a long-term deal will be a bad look for new GM Ryan Poles. And Bears’ fans, initially excited over the move, are beginning to realize the error their front office appears to have made.

All Steelers’ fans have to say is: we told you.

For Pittsburgh, they missed on Claypool. There’s no doubt about that. But they got the best version of him his rookie year and flipped him for what’ll wind up being a higher pick than they used to get him. And they’ll use that high second rounder to improve the trenches, find a top corner, something of need, and they’ll get him on a cheap, four-year contract. Who knows what the future holds. Claypool is catching a moving train and the more time he spends in Chicago, the more he’ll settle in. Maybe the player the Steelers use with that pick is the next Ricardo Colclough or Limas Sweed. But three weeks into the deal, it’s hard to argue Omar Khan and the Steelers didn’t fleece the Bears.

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