The Chicago Bears are looking to add playmakers to help in the development of franchise quarterback Justin Fields, who’s shown promise at times. For a roster pretty much devoid of talent around Fields, making a move at the trade deadline was imperative. That’s what first-year GM Ryan Poles did prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline, by trading for talented but underachieving Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool.
The move gives Fields something the Bears don’t have in their receiving room. Claypool is a big-bodied physical specimen, 6-foot-4 and 238 yards with sub 4.4 speed. His build allows him to make the tough contested catches and tight window grabs. In fact, since 2020, he’s ranked fifth in the league in contested grab yards with over 500. The Bears have a nice new toy for Fields to play with. This was a solid addition by Poles and he knows it was vital.
— NFL (@NFL) November 1, 2022
“You can never have enough weapons and guys that help your quarterback gain confidence. I know a lot of guys are starting to make plays for us. Adding another receiver is going to allow him to grow and gain the confidence.”
How Does Claypool Fit And Help In Fields’ Development?
The Bears are in search of a number-one receiver. Darnell Mooney, the team’s leading receiver this season, has just 25 receptions for 364 yards and zero touchdowns. Claypool has the tools to take pressure off the other pass catchers, if he’s locked in and engaged. That would allow Mooney to do what he does best, which is take the top off the defense with his 4.4 speed.
Rookie Velus Jones Jr. is another burner with 4.3 speed. In the offseason, the Patriots traded former first-round pick N’keal Harry to the Bears; he provides another big, physical weapon in the passing game, who’s also known to be a redzone threat at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.
In Chase Claypool, the Bears acquire a 24-year old WR who is under contract through 2023 and had 10 TDs as a rookie. He’s a big-body vertical threat that could soon become Chicago’s WR1.
An upside player with plenty of talent that fills a major need.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 1, 2022
Then there’s budding and rising tight end Cole Kmet, who’s oozing with playmaking ability and just needs someone to consistently get him the football. Adding a talent like Claypool can help all of that and boost an already solid running game with David Montgomery and rookie Khalil Herbert.
Claypool Needs To Mature Fast
Bears took a chance on Claypool instead of waiting until free agency to land a proven elite receiver, but he’ll need to show some maturity. In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, there was a growing sentiment around the Steelers facility that he’d become a distraction with his comments about not getting the football and about embattled Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Was he wrong? No, but he’ll need to channel that type of outspoken emotion in ChiTown.
This could be a fresh start for Claypool to prove his offseason proclamation of being a top-three receiver in the league. And a chance for the aforementioned Fields’ development to continue on an upward trajectory.