The Chicago Bears’ decision to trade their 2023 second-round pick for wide receiver Chase Claypool seemed like a good idea at the NFL trade deadline. But after Claypool failed to deliver any meaningful production and the Bears’ backing into the No. 1 overall pick (making the selection dealt for Claypool No. 32 overall), the hype around the trade quickly turned into criticism.
Thus is life in the NFL. Inherently a what have you done for me lately league, fans and analysts expect immediate results from any major decision like the Claypool trade. But patience is required before passing final judgment on general manager Ryan Poles’ decision to acquire the former Pittsburgh Steelers pass-catcher, even if the returns weren’t great in 2022.
Claypool totaled just 14 catches for 140 yards in seven games as a Bear.
According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., the Bears will eventually benefit from the Chase Claypool trade.
“Claypool is a solid player,” Kiper said on ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy. “I think that was a trade that should benefit them and will benefit them moving forward.”
The 2023 NFL draft doesn’t have the kind of wide receiver talent we’ve become used to seeing over the last few draft cycles. And if Claypool were part of this year’s draft class, he would’ve ranked near the top.
“I thought he was a big body kid who would get go get the football, win contested throws,” Kiper said. “Be a little more than just the guy that you could count on just to be the possession type. He could make some plays.”
It’s easy to forget the kind of splash Claypool made as a rookie in 2020. He totaled 873 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns (nine receiving, two rushing) and looked like the next big star at wide receiver. His numbers plateaued as Ben Roethlisberger aged, but with a fresh start in Chicago with one of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks, Claypool has a chance to re-emerge as a big-play weapon in 2023.
The 2023 free-agent wide receiver class is just as underwhelming as this year’s draft prospects. Had the Chicago Bears not made the trade for Claypool, they would’ve had a hard time finding a player with more upside than him this offseason.
Will the Bears end up regretting their decision to trade for Chase Claypool? Maybe. But that risk is worth the potential reward of hitting on a game-changer with his potential on offense.