It’s often said that a quarterback’s best friend is a wide receiver who’s open even when he’s covered. Usually, those guys are physical freaks, guys with plus size and speed who are difficult to contain, let alone stop.
The Chicago Bears haven’t had a wide receiver like that since Brandon Marshall left town after the 2014 season. Alshon Jeffery was close to fitting that description, but he last played for the Bears in 2016.
That’s about to change with the trade for Chase Claypool, the 6’4, 238-pound freakish talent who’s flashed elite upside over his first 2.5 seasons in the NFL. The Bears traded their 2023 second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers to land Claypool, who was clear about his role in Chicago when he met with the media Wednesday.
“I’m a playmaker, and I’m excited to make plays,” Claypool said. “I feel like I didn’t have the full opportunity to show what I can do this year, but I think I’ve been able to show that in the past. I’m excited to be able to gain that trust with Justin (Fields), too, where he knows if he needs a play, he can come to me and, frankly, any receiver out there.”
Claypool has 32 catches for 311 yards and one touchdown this season. He’s played with a mixed bag at quarterback, including former Bears bust Mitch Trubisky. His stats should improve paired with Fields, who doesn’t shy away from taking shots downfield.
“I think (the Bears) see where I can provide them a lot of value,” Claypool said. “I think they want to utilize that.”
Claypool’s best season came during his rookie year when he totaled 62 catches for 873 yards and nine scores. He added two rushing touchdowns that year, too, and looked like one of the elite young receivers in the NFL. His production was similar in 2021 but has fallen off a bit through the first half of 2022.
“I tried a new position this year in the slot,” said Claypool. “I was outside for my first two years. It wasn’t quite the best fit, but it wasn’t the worst either.”
Chase Claypool’s 2022 production ranks first on the Bears in receptions, second in yards, and tied for second in touchdowns. As the presumed WR1 in Chicago, he has a legitimate chance to set career highs in receptions and yards.
The Bears’ desperate need for a playmaker on offense was filled by GM Ryan Poles’ aggressive move at the trade deadline. Fields will be the biggest beneficiary. With the 2022 season being all about the quarterback’s development, it’s a move that will rank high on the list of critical moments in Chicago’s rebuilding effort.