The Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision to trade wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round draft pick has been framed by many as a ‘steal’ on Pittsburgh’s part. That became especially apparent when the Bears finished with the worst record in the league, and thus the highest draft pick.
How good the trade works out to be for Pittsburgh, though, will of course depend on what they do with that draft pick. Meanwhile, Claypool still has much to prove in his new home for anybody to believe the Steelers made a mistake. Nobody denies his talent, yet he has not produced, and his maturity has been questioned.
Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was asked about Claypool and the fact that he didn’t work out in Pittsburgh. Speaking with Harrison Graham for Chat Sports’ Steelers Talk, he acknowledged Claypool’s abilities as jaw-dropping, saying he has “everything that you want in a wide receiver”.
“Sometimes I think with Chase, it became more about Chase and less about the team”, he said. “I think there’s a little more maturing level on his part. He needs to grow up a little bit”.
While that has never been clearly articulated by anybody within the Steelers organizations, there were some in-game situations that resulted in Claypool being disciplined in one way or another in ways that reflected his emotional maturity. When it comes to his desire to make plays, however, Ward gets it.
“I love receivers who want the ball. I don’t want a receiver who don’t want the ball”, he said. “But you have to do it in the confinements of the aspect of the team. It’s about the team first, and if you just keep working on your craft, it’ll eventually get better”.
A second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2020, Claypool did not live up to the promise of his rookie season. He caught 62 passes that year for 873 yards with nine receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. He has only scored three more times since then and never bettered or matched any of those totals.
Claypool logged 462 snaps for Pittsburgh before the bye in 2022 prior to his being traded. During that time he was targeted 50 times, catching 32 passes but for just 311 yards and one touchdown. He did make some big plays here and there, particularly in situational football.
Moving to another team midseason is never the optimal circumstance, but he only played 200 snaps for the Bears after the trade. He caught 14 passes on 29 targets for 140 yards and did not score, though he did fumble.
The Steelers, meanwhile, move forward with George Pickens and Diontae Johnson as their top two wide receivers. They are hoping that 2022 fourth-round pick Calvin Austin III can emerge as another key contributor. It’s likely, however, that they will want to address the position with a significant addition this offseason.