Steelers Trade Wide Receiver Chase Claypool to Bears

by Mark Strausberg

Sometimes a trade makes absolute sense for both teams. And that's the case with the most recent trade announcement: Steelers Trade Wide Receiver Chase Claypool to Bears.

In return for Claypool, the Steelers will receive the Bears' 2023 second-round pick. If the season ended right now, that would be the 11th pick in the second round of the 2023 draft.

Even if the Bears don't improve their draft position, this fills one of their biggest offensive needs. Ever since Allen Robinson left, the Bears have needed a WR opposite of Darnell Mooney. With Claypool under contract until 2024, the Bears will have at least a season-and-a-half to see if Claypool is the answer.

Watch Mike Laplant and Dylan Clemons breakdown all the trades on YouTube.

And while the Steelers still have plenty of talent at WR, could this be the acceptance that they are not a playoff-worthy team?

Steelers Trade Wide Receiver Chase Claypool to Bears

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Claypool's Career in Pittsburgh

Chase Claypool was stolen as the 49th pick in the 2020 draft by the Steelers. He proved it his rookie season when he was targeted 109 times, turning that into 62 catches for 873 yards and an impressive nine receiving TDs. He also had two rushing touchdowns that season.

His fantasy owners that year certainly remember his breakout game against the Eagles in early October this season when he scored not one, not two, not three, but four total touchdowns! He had three receiving touchdowns but also ran one in for a score as well.

However, as Ben Roethlisberger began showing his age and the Steelers' QB position became a weakness rather than a strength, things took a major downturn for Claypool in the recent seasons. Claypool however did show he is still capable of decent fantasy numbers with his week 6 game against the Buccaneers when he caught seven of seven targets for 96 yards and a score.

Claypool is currently outside of the top 40 fantasy WRS, but we should expect that number to rise when he arrives in Chicago.

Impact in Chicago

With Justin Fields looking better each week, it became obvious that Chicago needed to get him more weapons. Chicago's two other receivers across from Mooney, Dante Pettis and Equanimeous St. Brown had all 21 catches of 319 receiving yards through eight games. Claypool brings legitimacy to Chicago's WR2 position. Teams will no longer be able to both stuff the box and double-cover Mooney.

ESB and Pettis obviously plummet in value. Tight End Cole Kmet however should see more openings over the middle. Darnell Mooney is a huge beneficiary as he should see fewer double-teams than before the Claypool trade. Both starting RBs, Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery, should also benefit as they will see eight or nine in the box far less frequently.

The biggest beneficiary in Chicago of course is Justin Fields, who now gets a bonafide WR2 at his disposal. It does mean that he has no more excuses for the rest of the season. Yet I'm sure he'll trade having excuses for the opportunity to throw to Claypool.

Claypool himself however might be the happiest of those now in Chicago. He should be more heavily targeted than the approximately six targets he was seeing per game in Pittsburgh. He was stuck in a revolving trifecta with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, but now becomes his team's clear WR2.

Impact in Pittsburgh

As big of a get as this was for Chicago, do not cry for Pittsburgh. They are still, pun intended, in good hands at wide receiver.

Diontae Johnson and his team-leading 76 targets should remain the Steelers' WR1. But with Claypool gone, expect him to see a few more red-zone looks. Johnson should soon erase that donut in the touchdown column as well. But the biggest winner in Pittsburgh in this deal is George Pickens who is now the clear WR2 in Pittsburgh. He has shown immediate chemistry with Steelers QB Kenny Pickett. And the trading of Claypool to Chicago underscores the confidence that the Steelers have in Pickens.

Steelers TE Pat Friermuth is also likely to be more utilized now. He is averaging just under seven targets a game, but expect him to average more than that the remainder of the season. Claypool's 50 targets in eight games need to go somewhere in the second half and my guess is that Friermuth gets the biggest share of those. Miles Boykin however does become a more intriguing weekly punt play for fantasy purposes.

Final Thoughts

I like nearly everything about this trade. From a football perspective, we should see a young promising quarterback get even better. Furthermore, in one of my leagues, I own both Claypool and Pickens. Both WRs see their stocks rise with this trade, especially from a long-term perspective. It's a great trade for Chicago and frankly a smart one for Pittsburgh.

At 2-6, Pittsburgh has an incredibly steep climb to make the playoffs and accepted that they would probably be on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in. They were able to trade from one of their biggest positions of strength and in return got a first-round draft pick.

Cleveland fans were likely riding high after last night's win over division rival Cincinnati. However, with the news of this trade, many fans in Ohio are likely left wondering, "Why can't our team do that?"

We may never know.


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