Less than a year after trading for Chase Claypool, the Chicago Bears are reportedly looking to deal the wide receiver elsewhere.
Chicago will ask for a fifth or sixth-round pick in return, per Jordan Schultz, which would be a paltry return compared to the 2023 second-round pick it gave up to acquire Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers at last year’s trade deadline.
The news marks the latest turn in what has been a disappointing stint in Chicago ever since the Bears acquired him on deadline day last season.
Chase Claypool Falls Out of Favor in Chicago
Expectations have been high on Claypool after Chicago traded for him, hoping to give Justin Fields another weapon to work with.
The fourth-year wide receiver did not reach the heights of his first two years last season, with a combined 46 catches for 451 yards and four touchdowns between his two teams, including just 14 catches for 140 yards in seven appearances for Chicago.
Those struggles continued through the first three games of 2023 as Claypool amassed just four catches for 51 yards and one touchdown in 14 targets.
His slow start and negative comments after last week’s 41-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs amounted to Claypool being a healthy scratch for Sunday’s bout with the Denver Broncos.
Now, it seems the saga will end with Claypool elsewhere.
Potential Landing Spots for Chase Claypool
The Panthers present one of the most obvious destinations after news came out early Sunday that they are in the market for a wide receiver.
Carolina has not gotten much production at wide receiver outside of Adam Thielen and DJ Chark, who have a combined 37 catches for 312 yards and three touchdowns through the first three weeks.
The Panthers could certainly use another weapon to put around rookie quarterback Bryce Young, who went a combined 42 of 71 for 299 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in his first two starts before missing Week 3 with an injury. He returned to start for them in Week 4.
The low price tag could attract plenty of bidders, but Carolina is among those that make plenty of sense.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have not gotten much production out of the wide receiver spot this season, or their pass catchers in general, with just two players over 100 receiving yards through the first three games.
Kendrick Bourne has 4 catches for 139 yards and two scores to lead the team, while tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki have combined for 22 catches, 212 yards, and two scores. Devante Parker, Demario Douglas, and Juju Smith-Schuster have all made minimal impact at wide receiver.
Adding a playmaker with upside like Claypool to that room could be attractive for New England, especially at a fairly low price.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have found their way to a 2-1 record entering Week 4, but their offense has been less than convincing outside of last week’s drubbing of the Bears.
Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have all been solid early on, but none have been world-beaters by any stretch. Watson leads the group with seven catches for 158 yards, while Rice and Moore each have 100-plus yards and a touchdown apiece.
If any team could get more out of Claypool, it’s Kansas City and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who remains among the league’s top 10 in passing yards early on despite working with a relatively depleted receiving corps.
The Chiefs have a need for more playmaking at the spot, especially with longtime star Tyreek Hill no longer around, which could make Claypool an intriguing player to take a flyer on.
Amid an up-and-down start, the Browns have gotten minimal production at receiver outside of Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore.
Cooper leads the way with 17 catches for 243 yards and one score through the season’s first three weeks, while Moore has 15 grabs for 128 yards. Donovan Peoples-Jones has five catches for 68 yards, but no other receiver on the team has made notable contributions through three games.
Getting another playmaker for Deshaun Watson to work with could be beneficial for Cleveland, especially at a relatively low price with two already established players in the room.
It all makes for a situation that could compel the Browns to make an offer for Claypool.
It’s likely a longshot, but could Pittsburgh take its chances on a reunion with Claypool at a discount from the return it got when sending him out?
The Steelers certainly had their reasons for moving on from him in the first place, namely what Mike Tomlin described as “the draft capital and value for us” at the time. The second-round pick they acquired was used on Joey Porter, Jr., who has shown some promise in a limited role thus far.
Pittsburgh doesn’t exactly have a big need at the wide receiver position between George Pickens (13 catches, 238 yards, and one TD), Calvin Austin III (nine catches, 118 yards, and one TD), and Allen Robinson II (11 catches, 100 yards).
Still, if the move off Claypool was purely about value and the Steelers still value him as a player, it could be worth putting an offer in for him at the price.
A reunion feels unlikely given all of the extenuating circumstances and the fact that Carolina would certainly be hesitant to again deal with a team that clearly won the teams’ initial trade, but perhaps it’s still a possibility.