Last most people heard from Claypool, he was getting widely criticized for a lackluster effort in Week 1. The former second-round pick was acquired at midseason last year with the hope that he could become the primary weapon for quarterback Justin Fields, especially after the Bears gave up what turned out to be the No. 32 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Turning in a lowlight reel that has to be seen to be properly understood wasn't a great start for Claypool in 2023. The game was so bad that Claypool reportedly apologized to his teammates after the Bears reportedly threatened to deactivate him for gamedays or even trade him. Claypool has improved since then, but not to the point where anyone would mistake him for the Bears' WR1.
When asked Friday whether the Bears were putting him "in the best position for you as a receiver to showcase the best of what you can do," Claypool paused for several seconds, then said "No."
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 29, 2023
ESPN's Courtney Cronin later posted a transcript of Claypool's comments, and he didn't get much more positive after his "No" answer.:
"Would you say it's not ideal?"
"No, I wouldn't say that. I think every situation has the ability to be ideal and I think we're just working towards that. I'm not going to say that. I wouldn't say it's not an ideal place for me. Obviously there's other places — you can say, 'Oh, I want to be on the best offense with the highest passing yards' but that doesn't happen in football. You just have to make due with what you got."
"What is the best place for them to put you in for you to succeed?"
"You know, I'II let them decide that. I'm not going to give any pointers. That's their job to decide and l'll just do what they tell me to do."
You could say Claypool is just being honest there, but the 0-3 Bears aren't exactly in a position where full honesty is going to do much good right now. Even by Bears standards, this has been a miserable season, with quarterback Justin Fields, head coach Matt Eberflus and maybe even general manager Ryan Poles facing questions about their future in Chicago, barring a major reversal.
Claypool once looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers' top wide receiver of the future after a 2020-21 rookie season in which he posted 873 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. His star has faded significantly in the three years since, and now we're here, with Claypool ranking sixth in receiving yards on arguably the worst team in the NFL.
That's probably not all because of the Bears failing to put Claypool in a position to succeed. And that's something Claypool himself is going to have to confront considering he has free agency coming up next spring.