In a nod to Justin Fields, Bears pay top dollar to add Chase Claypool


Give Ryan Poles credit for working both sides of the street.

While trading assets in defensive stars Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, the Bears rookie general manager also made an intriguing addition, adding pass-catching specimen Chase Claypool to a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Claypool, 24, was under control for a season and a half before reaching free agency. He was an expensive proposition, with ESPN reporting it took a second-round pick to land him. The Bears had added three picks in the Smith and Quinn trades, making it easier to pay such a high price.

The Poles seem to believe the Notre Dame product will help the development of second-year quarterback Justin Fields, joining Darnell Mooney as a primary target. The Bears have plenty of room on their deconstructed roster, which will allow the team to consider offseason extensions for Claypool and Mooney. Claypool was a 2020 second-round pick; the Bears landed Mooney three rounds later.

Mooney and Claypool make an ideal tandem, at least on paper. The fast Mooney is listed at 5-11, 173 pounds; Claypool is 6-4, 238 and has the jumping skills to get airborne for sideline or end zone passes. He’s scored 32 of 50 targets with Pittsburgh this season, averaging 9.7 yards per reception, but scoring just one touchdown.

Poles, who replaces Ryan Paces as general manager of a franchise that hasn’t won a postseason game since the 2010 season, focused on defense in his first offseason in charge of the Bears. . He seems to be at least partly focused on offense around Fields, who had to largely manufacture the offense himself.

Both Claypool and Mooney had stellar seasons as rookies, combining to make 123 catches for 1,504 yards and 13 touchdowns. But Claypool’s production had dwindled as Mooney’s role with the Bears grew. Ben Roethlisberger’s transition to Kenny Pickett has been a bumpy one for the Steelers, who rank 24th in the NFL with 203.9 passing yards per game. That modest total represents a goal for the Bears, who are last at 126.9 per game.

Fields, who constantly jostles behind a disparate offensive line, has been sacked 31 times while getting just 159 assists. Mooney’s 25 catches are 11 more than the most targeted wide receiver, Equanimeous St. Brown.

Claypool was the second-most-targeted wide receiver in Pittsburgh, but was far behind No. 1 target Diontae Johnson. Rookie George Pickens doesn’t have many catches in Claypool but has more passing yardage.

Like the Bears 3-5, the Steelers (2-6) see this as a rebuilding year. They jumped at the chance to get a second-round pick for a secondary target, but Claypool could play a major role for Fields and the Bears.


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