Chicago Bears: Reflecting on the Chase Claypool trade 5 weeks later

Chicago Bears, Chase Claypool (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears, Chase Claypool (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Bears traded for Chase Claypool, most of us let out a collective sigh of relief that the organization finally got some more help for their young quarterback. That sigh of relief lasted about 30 seconds until we found out what they paid for this help.

The Chicago Bears exchanged their own second-round pick (currently projected to be 34th overall) in the 2023 NFL Draft for WR Chase Claypool. They won a bidding war with their biggest rival in doing so but most of us would likely agree that this is objectively an overpay.

While acknowledging that they did overpay for Chase Claypool, it is also fair to point out that this was a rather necessary one. With the WR free agent market as thin as it projects to be, and the Bears’ dire need for another playmaker, they really had no avenues to directly address this need.

Even if Chase Claypool was made available via trade or released at the end of the season, the price would have been inflated given his standing in the current market of available wide receivers.

Additionally, after moving Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, a feel-good move was needed to lift the spirits of a deflated locker room.

With all that said, it is his trade price that has severely accelerated expectations for his production on a weekly basis. Knowing what wide receivers have been taken in the second round in the past, Claypool has been under immense pressure to immediately deliver.

Yet it is worth pointing out that for every AJ Brown or Deebo Samuel found in the second round, there has been a Tutu Atwell, Dante Pettis, or dare I say, Anthony Miller.

Chase Claypool’s price put pressure on him to produce for the Chicago Bears.

Had the Bears simply flipped the pick they got from Baltimore for Claypool, I don’t think nearly as much attention is paid to how fast he gets acclimated, as most would see this final half of the season as an “extended offseason” for him to learn the playbook and build some chemistry with Justin Fields before the season ends.

However, no one should be adjusting expectations because the Chicago Bears overpaid in the acquisition, in what was already a very shallow wide receiver market.

This is all about 2023 and what the Bears did by acquiring Chase Claypool at the deadline was give their coaching staff extra runway to figure out what role he thrives best in to better optimize their offseason program.

Additionally, his slow start shouldn’t surprise anyone. It took the Bears till week 6 or 7 to truly start clicking as a passing offense and these were players who spent all summer learning this playbook and getting reps with Justin Fields.

Chase Claypool comes in and through his first 5 games has 12 receptions on 22 targets for 111 yards. Darnell Mooney through his first 5 games this season had 10 receptions on 21 targets for 173 yards.

Even though Mooney got to work with Justin Fields last year, trained with him this summer, learned the playbook with him, and got preseason reps with him, he still struggled out of the gate to find chemistry with his quarterback.

It’s obvious that whatever system the Bears are running has a lot of nuances that take time to pick up. It would further explain their rationale behind bringing a WR in now versus potentially waiting for free agency or the draft.

The Chicago Bears needed immediate depth and another meaningful threat in addition to Mooney and they likely knew upon making the move that it wouldn’t yield immediate dividends. As a result, it’s probably premature to overreact to Chase Claypool’s production or lack thereof to this point.

If we reach this point next year and there are zero improvements, this will likely go down as a major mistake for Ryan Poles and co. Luckily for him, Poles has more than enough cap space and future draft capital to overcompensate if this Claypool move doesn’t pan out.

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