Why Claypool sees Bears tenure succeeding where Steelers run failed originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chase Claypool doesn't know exactly why his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers fizzled out. It's rare for a high draft pick with a successful early-career track record to be traded while on his rookie contract.
But that's what happened when the Steelers sent Claypool to the Bears in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick.
After two seasons of 800-plus receiving yards to start his Steelers career, Claypool says the organization's view of him and his role in their offense changed. Why? That's an answer he might never get.
“I just think that at some point – the perspective on me, at some point, was like, ‘oh, he’s not a red-zone threat,’ for some reason. Or, ‘he’s not a deep-ball threat,’ for some reason," Claypool said Wednesday. "I’m not sure why that happened. I started getting formationed away from those things. It was hard for me to make big plays because anytime there was a big play drawn up, it was like on the other side. I think it was just like the opportunity. Sometimes that’s how it goes, that’s just how the offensive system works at that time.”
Claypool sees his fresh start with the Bears as something that will benefit his career. He's happy to find himself on a team that values what he brings to the table and sees him as a potential long-term fit alongside quarterback Justin Fields.
Chicago, as Claypool sees it, is a place where he will have more chances to make the explosive plays he became known for early in his Steelers tenure.
“I think they look at me as a valuable player, obviously," Claypool said. "That’s why they traded for me. I just think they will give me more opportunities to make plays and stuff like that.
“Not even the focal point as if I’m the only one who could do it," Claypool later added. "But you’ve got like four or five plays where you could get a good chunk of yards rather than, ‘here’s your one play of the week. Make sure you make a play on this no matter what the coverage is.’”
Where the Steelers lost faith in Claypool's ability to be a consistent threat in the red zone and with the deep ball, the Bears plan to use Claypool's athleticism, speed, and size to elevate a passing game that has struggled to find explosion plays.
“I think there’s just more opportunity," Claypool said. "I think [offensive coordinator Luke Getsy] does a good job of giving you a chance to win on your routes regardless of where the coverage is. He’ll add little things in the route to help you get open.”
Claypool caught just two passes for 13 yards on five targets in his Bears debut in Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins. He also drew a 28-yard pass interference flag and should have drawn a second one at the end of the game.
His role will grow as he immerses himself in the Bears' playbook and develops a rapport with Fields.
But from what he has seen so far, Claypool likes the idea of what he can become in the Bears' offensive system.
“I thought it was super diverse what the offense could do,” Claypool told NBC Sports Chicago after the loss vs. the Dolphins. “We mix it up a lot, made some people’s jobs super easy, especially my job easier. Not trying to do anything to, to crazy with me. But I like what I will be able to do in this offense.”
Claypool had time to catch his breath after his Bears debut and believes this week will be business as usual after the trade deadline whirlwind.
After a puzzling end to his time in Pittsburgh, Claypool is ready to make the most of his fresh start with an organization he believes values him in a way the Steelers didn't.
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