Getting a second-round pick for an underperforming wide receiver about to be entering his final season on a rookie contract seems like a no-brainer move for any general manager in the NFL.
For Pittsburgh Steelers GM Omar Khan, a lot of thought and discussion ultimately went into the decision to move wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears in a trade deadline deal, acquiring the first pick of the second round in the 2023 NFL Draft. Ultimately, it came down to the comfort in the receiving room behind Claypool, Khan stated to Steelers.com’s Max Starks Wednesday in a one-on-one interview for the team’s website.
“Honestly, if we didn’t feel good about the rest of the receiver room, we wouldn’t have made that trade,” Khan stated to Starks, according to video via Steelers.com. “We felt really good about the players that we had there. And, you know, when the opportunity presented itself, we talked it over with Art [Rooney II] and Mike [Tomlin] and we discussed it and felt like it was the right decision for us.
“But if we didn’t feel good about the receiver room that we had, we wouldn’t have made the trade.”
From a depth perspective, at least on paper, there wasn’t much to feel good about behind the trio of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Chase Claypool leading up to the trade. Gunner Olszewski was mostly a disappointment and had been benched on special teams, Steven Sims was used very little offensively, and Myles Boykin wasn’t factoring into the plays from an offensive standpoint overall, even though he had plenty of experience.
The trade of Claypool certainly opened up a sizable hole on the offense in the slot, but in the end Sims ended up providing the same amount of production in the final seven games of the season that Claypool provided the Bears, largely making it a wash.
In seven games in Chicago, Claypool hauled in just 14 passes for 140 yards, while Sims caught 14 passes for 104 yards and adding 13 carries for 70 yards. Sims made some clutch plays down the stretch, including the big 28-yard catch down the middle of the field against the Baltimore Ravens in the thrilling comeback win on Sunday Night Football on New Years Day on the road.
That production paid dividends for the Steelers as it showed Pittsburgh made the right decision to cash in on the trade offer from the Bears, getting a high second round pick that they can now use to plug some holes elsewhere on the roster. It might have been an easy move to make on paper, but it truly came down to the belief in some of the veterans in the room for Khan and the rest of the decision makers in Pittsburgh.