Chase Claypool

Packers Offered Steelers Second-Round Pick For WR Chase Claypool

The Packers ended up standing down at Tuesday afternoon’s deadline, but they are believed to have made a substantial offer to try and upgrade their receiving corps.

Green Bay offered Pittsburgh a second-round pick for Chase Claypool, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (on Twitter). The Packers saw their reputation for success work against them. The Steelers took the Bears’ offer of a second-round pick, per Silverstein, because they believe Chicago’s 2023 selection will be “considerably higher” come April. Both the Bears and Packers are 3-5, but one team is amid a rebuild and the other attempting to cling to contention status.

Not exactly a hotbed of deadline activity, the Packers were pursuing receiver upgrades for several days before Tuesday brought the Claypool news. But the team was believed to be in strong position for Claypool as of Tuesday morning, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets. A Bears offer emerged Tuesday morning, and the Steelers ended up focusing on a deal with Chicago. Claypool’s through-2023 contract is now on the Bears’ payroll.

The 6-foot-4, 238-pound receiver was rumored to have been made available late this summer, and rumblings about his potential to be moved persisted until the deadline. Claypool, 24, has back-to-back 800-plus-yard seasons on his resume, passing James Washington for a regular Steelers role. Rather than help Kenny Pickett develop, the Notre Dame product will be used to assist Justin Fields in his progression.

Aaron Rodgers has lobbied for the Packers to add pass-catching help, with the team amid its worst stretch of the Matt LaFleur era. Green Bay has seen its receiving corps struggle when at full strength, and it finished its Buffalo matchup without Allen Lazard and Christian Watson. With Randall Cobb on IR, the Packers do not have much in the way of available talent at the position.

Calls for the Pack to improve their post-Davante Adams receiving corps have come since Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling departed in March. Adams said the Packers’ extension offer exceeded the Raiders’ terms, and Green Bay made a late push to keep MVS. The team then proceeded to use both its first-round picks on defensive talent, extending the streak of no first-round receiver picks to 20 years. Green Bay traded up to No. 34 for Watson, but injury issues have led to the North Dakota State product missing extensive time as a rookie.

The deadline does not close the book on receiver additions, but unless the Packers are prepared to wait on Odell Beckham Jr., they will need to climb out of this hole with the pass catchers they have. Green Bay pursued Beckham during his November 2021 free agency and was connected to Brandin Cooks this year. Cooks and the Texans may not be on good terms right now, so it will be interesting to see what happens with that partnership. For now, however, the Packers have come up empty at a key point on the NFL calendar.

Steelers Send WR Chase Claypool To Bears

After dangling Chase Claypool in trades this offseason, the Steelers will indeed move on from the former second-round pick. They reached an agreement to send Claypool to the Bears, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Bears are paying up to see how Claypool will look in their offense, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com adding Chicago will send Pittsburgh a second-round pick (Twitter link). Teams had heard Claypool was available for a third-rounder, per Albert Breer of SI.com, but multiple offers may have come in, as the Bears will part with a future second.

This trade transpired quickly, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac adding the Bears called on Claypool on Thursday morning (Twitter link). The Steelers will likely receive the higher of the Bears’ two 2023 second-rounders, noting (via Twitter) that Chicago’s original Round 2 choice (not the Baltimore pick obtained for Roquan Smith) will go to Pittsburgh.

While Chicago has made two major seller’s trades over the past several days, the rebuilding team will have Claypool under contract beyond 2022. The big-bodied wide receiver’s rookie deal runs through 2023, giving the Bears a season and a half of potential evaluation time. The Bears let Allen Robinson walk this year and brought in a host of midlevel veteran options — trade acquisition N’Keal Harry among them — but Dan Graziano of ESPN.com adds the team had been searching for another wideout to work with Justin Fields (Twitter link).

Pittsburgh will move on from the Notre Dame alum, a move that is set to make second-round rookie George Pickens the team’s top complementary wideout. The Steelers have Pickens signed through 2025 and the recently extended Diontae Johnson locked down through 2024. These two will be the main pieces fostering Kenny Pickett‘s development, until the next Day 2 Steelers wideout arrives of course.

The Steelers added Day 2 receiving talent in 2017 (JuJu Smith-Schuster), 2018 (James Washington), 2019 (Johnson), 2020 (Claypool) and 2022 (Pickens). The organization has an extensive track record of finding and developing receivers, so collecting another asset for one not in the long-term plan makes sense. The Bears will pair Claypool with Darnell Mooney, whose rookie contract also runs through 2023.

At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Claypool is one of the biggest receivers in NFL history. He showed bright flashes as a Steeler, having exceeded 800 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, but has also been inconsistent. The Canadian pass catcher came through for the team during its upset win over the Buccaneers, catching a go-ahead touchdown pass and multiple third-down tosses from Mitch Trubisky earlier this month. Through seven games, Claypool sits at 32 catches for 311 yards and one score.

This move stands to equip Fields with a 24-year-old No. 2 wideout. Chicago’s receiver strategy this offseason proved interesting, with Fields not exactly being set up with talent the way other young quarterbacks were. Third-round pick Velus Jones has three catches thus far this season, and the rest of Chicago’s receiving corps — Harry, Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Dante Pettis— consists of veteran retreads. In terms of additional draft capital, the Bears still have the extra fifth-round pick from the Smith trade, the 2023 fourth-rounder they acquired from the Eagles for Robert Quinn and 2023 sixth they grabbed from the Chargers for Khalil Mack.

Steelers Unlikely To Trade Chase Claypool?

Diontae Johnson and Antonio Brown have been exceptions for the modern Steelers, who usually move on from wide receivers during or after their rookie contracts. One of the many productive wideouts to come through Pittsburgh in recent years, Chase Claypool is being rumored as a departure candidate ahead of his contract year even beginning.

Mentioned in trade rumors at multiple junctures over the past week, Claypool is one of the buzzier relocation candidates ahead of next week’s deadline. Teams continue to look into the big-bodied receiver, per Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. But Claypool should not be expected to be moved, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes.

The Steelers bucked their years-long trend of moving on from receivers after their rookie deals by extending Johnson at $18MM per year. Johnson is signed through 2024, while second-round pick George Pickens is locked in through 2025. Claypool’s rookie pact runs through 2023, and Pickens’ emergence has helped produce the rumblings Claypool could be available. The Steelers are even believed to have made the 238-pound target available this summer, but it is clear they are aiming for a strong offer.

One of the many Day 2 wideout draftees to flash while in Pittsburgh, Claypool appears likely in the early stages of an audition. With Johnson signed, Pickens chosen and the prospect of the Steelers hitting on yet another second- or third-round receiver looming, Claypool’s second contract will likely come from another team. But the Steelers are keen on keeping as many weapons around Kenny Pickett as possible, La Canfora adds. A trade would obviously interfere with that goal.

Pittsburgh separated from multiple starting wideouts via trade during Kevin Colbert‘s GM run, sending Santonio Holmes to the Jets and dealing Martavis Bryant to the Raiders. They also traded Sammie Coates to the Browns in 2017. Current GM Omar Khan was in Pittsburgh’s front office for these moves.

Claypool, 24, has back-to-back 850-plus-yard seasons on his resume, which has naturally made him an attractive trade piece. For now, a Johnson-Claypool-Pickens aerial corps stands to help Pickett progress. Claypool has seen his yards-per-catch average crater post-Ben Roethlisberger; it sits at 9.5 (28 catches, 266 yards, one touchdown) through seven games. Still, unless the Steelers are blown away, it seems likely Claypool will enter his 2023 contract year on the team that drafted him.

Potential Trade Candidates: Cooks, Claypool, Jeudy

Franchises looking for an upgrade at receiver should have their opportunities before the trade deadline comes, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. While the Panthers seem determined to hold onto D.J. Moore, it appears that Texans wideout Brandin Cooks, Steelers receiver Chase Claypool, and Broncos pass catcher Jerry Jeudy are all names generating interest in the trade markets.

Cooks is in his third season with his fourth NFL team after getting traded three times before. If Cooks does get dealt again, he’ll tie running back Eric Dickerson for the most trades in a career with four. Cooks has been dependable as a top target at every stop of his career. There have only been two seasons, one being his rookie year, in which he failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving. He’s a veteran that can lead a room and add production on all levels of the passing game.

Claypool is in his third season with the Steelers after getting drafted out of Notre Dame. Claypool exploded onto the scene as a rookie, racking up 873 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. He continued a lot of the same production in his sophomore season, totaling 860 yards but only found the endzone twice. This year, with new quarterbacks, Claypool’s on track to finish along the same stat lines, but, with rookie wideout George Pickens starting to out-produce him, the Steelers may be seeing Claypool as an expendable asset.

Jeudy is also a third-year receiver who was expected to have a breakout year this season for the Broncos. His production has been plenty serviceable so far this year, but, as Denver’s offense continues to sputter, the team might be shifting into sell-mode. Jeudy represents one of the more talented and promising assets in Denver. If quarterback Russell Wilson fails to get the Broncos to be more competitive, Jeudy and his rookie contract could be headed somewhere new.

There are plenty of teams who are hungry for some new receiving options. The Ravens have been relying on Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson as Rashod Bateman deals with injuries. The Packers has seen injuries hurt their production, as well. They’ve been utilizing Allen Lazard alongside a mix of whoever is healthy out of Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, and a pair of rookies. Also in the NFC North, the Bears could certainly use some proven playmakers to supplement a receiving corps led by Darnell Mooney and Dante Pettis.

We’re bound to see some fireworks as the trade deadline nears. It’s starting to look like the stars may align to move some productive pass catchers to needy homes.

Packers Expected To Pursue WR Upgrades Before Trade Deadline

Outside of the NFC East, the Vikings reside as the conference’s only over-.500 team. That leaves several teams that entered the season on the contender radar amid a middle-class glut.

The Packers’ three previous Matt LaFleur seasons have produced three, three and four losses; 2021 featuring a half-hearted Week 18 effort after clinching home-field advantage. Green Bay’s 2022 edition is already at three losses, and conversations about adding pieces at the trade deadline are believed to be ongoing.

Multiple GMs believe the Packers are looking for wide receiver help, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. This update comes after Aaron Rodgers suggested, via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, GM Brian Gutekunst will be in the mix if an opportunity to add a worthwhile player arises.

Issues at wide receiver date back to the team’s decision to move forward with the Davante Adams tag-and-trade maneuver. Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s defection to the Chiefs followed days later. The Packers negotiated with Adams during the 2021 offseason but could not close a deal before his contract expired. Rodgers attempted to convince Adams to stay, and the Packers offered a more lucrative contract compared to the five-year, $140MM deal the Raiders authorized. But the Fresno State alum became intent on leaving Green Bay. The Pack also tried to re-sign Valdes-Scantling but did not surpass the Chiefs’ offer of three years, $30MM ($8.56MM guaranteed). That left a major void in what had been an Adams- and MVS-fronted receiving corps for years.

The Packers have gone with a combination of midlevel veterans and rookies at the position, but injuries have intervened. Sammy Watkins remains on IR, continuing a trend for the journeyman receiver, and Christian Watson — for whom the Packers vaulted up to No. 34 this year — has missed two games thus far. Randall Cobb suffered an ankle injury during the Packers’ loss to the Jets and is expected to miss extensive time. Training camp standout Romeo Doubs has contributed in spurts, but the Packers have not seen much from rookie receivers traditionally during the Rodgers era. Amari Rodgers, a 2021 third-round pick, has not carved out a role on offense.

This has put the onus on Allen Lazard, who has 20 receptions for 285 yards and four touchdowns in his five-game season. Lazard worked as a tertiary target during the Adams-MVS period. It will be interesting if the Packers will now acquire someone to complement him.

Chase Claypool has surfaced as a potential option. While it is not known if the Packers are pursuing the third-year Steelers pass catcher yet, Fowler adds the former second-round pick was believed to be available this summer. Claypool, who is signed through 2023, is coming off his season’s best game — a seven-catch, 96-yard outing against the Buccaneers — and makes sense as a player who can help Kenny Pickett develop. The Steelers do, however, used another Day 2 pick on a wideout this year (George Pickens) and extended Diontae Johnson through 2024.

With so many NFC teams sitting at 3-3 or 2-4, it might take a bit longer before true sellers emerge. Only two AFC teams enter Week 7 with one win. Among those, only the Texans profile as a team who would consider dealing away a receiver. Odell Beckham Jr., of course, resides as the top available option. He will have multiple suitors and is not expected to be available to return from his ACL tear until November or potentially December. Green Bay remains on the OBJ radar.

The Packers are averaging 17.8 points per game. That number sits 24th and also ranks as the lowest six-game scoring average during Rodgers’ run as a starter, per ESPN Stats and Info. With the team’s oft-questioned receiver plan helping contribute to this production dip, Packers trade buzz figures to pick up ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.

AFC Notes: Bailey, Steelers, Collins, Weeks

Going into the last year of his contract, Patriots punter Jake Bailey was set to earn a base salary of $925,000 for the 2022 NFL season. Due to a proven performance bonus that was triggered when Bailey was selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl, Bailey is on track to be the NFL’s highest-paid punter with a 2022 salary of $3.98MM, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.

A knee injury limited Bailey in the 2021 season which saw him struggle to live up to his expected salary. It’s now assumed that the Patriots will begin working towards a contract extension to lessen the cap hit Bailey is posed to hold. In a normal situation, the Patriots might want to see another season of success out of Bailey after a down 2021, but Bailey’s raise puts a little pressure on New England to work out a deal sooner rather than later.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with a note from the Steel City:

  • In an article for The Athletic, Ed Bouchette poses the question: What does Pittsburgh do about their pass-catchers this offseason? The Steelers have long subscribed to the notion that they don’t need to sign a receiver to a multi-year extension (with the exception of Antonio Brown). They can (and do) always just draft another. Now, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud are headed towards free agency. They still have Diontae Johnson (heading into a contract year, himself) and Chase Claypool, but both have had their own issues: Johnson with drops and Claypool failing to improve on an impressive rookie-season. Pittsburgh can (and likely will) turn to the second and third round of the draft to address the thin roster, as usual, but do they break protocol to ensure they have at least three receivers they can trust?
  • After a one-year deal brought him to Houston, defensive tackle Maliek Collins has the Texans hooked. The 3-tech tackle played a pivotal role in now-head coach Lovie Smith‘s defense and the Texans are determined to pluck him off the open market and keep him in Houston. Luckily for Lovie, the feeling is reportedly mutual, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Collins is a strong fit in Houston and embraced his new team and his role on the team. Smith gushed about Collins and his impact, identifying him as the linchpin of their defensive system.
  • We mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Texans were able to re-sign long-time long snapper Jon Weeks on a one-year deal. Details on the contract were provided this week by Aaron Wilson on Twitter. Weeks will stay around the veteran minimum, slightly increasing his base salary from $1.08MM to $1.12MM and slightly increasing his signing bonus from $137,500 to $152,500. Consider it a cost-of-living raise for Weeks who will become the franchise’s longest-tenured player of all time when he reaches his 13th season this fall, passing star wide receiver Andre Johnson for the most seasons in Houston of all time.

Steelers WR Chase Claypool Avoids Season-Ending Injury

It sounds like Chase Claypool avoided a serious injury. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the Steelers wideout didn’t suffer a season-ending injury and is instead considered week-to-week.

There was some initial fear that Claypool’s foot injury would end up costing him the rest of the 2021 campaign. Fortunately, that won’t be the case, and Rapoport didn’t even definitively say that the receiver will miss time (rather, Claypool may miss time).

Following a standout rookie campaign that saw him haul in nine touchdowns, Claypool has continued his production into this season. Through seven games (six starts), the wideout has hauled in 29 receptions for 433 yards and one touchdown. The 23-year-old has also gotten six carries for 51 yards.

This is especially good news for a Steelers offense that already lost JuJu Smith-Schuster to a season-ending injury. Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud will lead the receivers depth chart while Claypool is out.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 7/23/20

Here are Thursday’s draft pick agreements, with the list being updated throughout the day.

  • The Vikings picked an interesting year to make 15 draft choices, given the pandemic’s impact on developmental work. But the team is nearly finished with rookie contract agreements. Minnesota signed third-round cornerback Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), fourth-round defensive end D.J. Wonnum (South Carolina), fifth-round corner Harrison Hand (Temple), fifth-round wideout K.J. Osborn (Miami), sixth-round tackle Blake Brandel (Oregon State), sixth-round safety Josh Metellus (Michigan), seventh-round defensive end Kenny Willekes (Michigan State) and seventh-round safety Brian Cole (Mississippi State). Minnesota lost Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander this offseason and tripled up on corners in the draft. First-round corner Jeff Gladney is the Vikes’ lone unsigned pick.
  • Top 2020 Steelers pick Chase Claypool, a second-rounder, is now under contract. The Steelers have their latest Day 2 wide receiver investment signed, along with Round 6 safety Antoine Brooks (Maryland). Claypool’s addition means the top four Pittsburgh wideouts — JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson and Claypool — came from the second or third rounds. The Notre Dame product has quite the SPARQ profile, going 6-foot-4, 238 pounds and running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
  • Washington wrapped up its 2020 draft class by signing Round 4 tackle Saahdiq Charles, Round 5 linebacker Khaleke Hudson, Round 6 safety Kamren Curl and Round 7 defensive end James Smith-Williams.
  • The Bengals signed one of Claypool’s former Fighting Irish teammates, fifth-round defensive end Khalid Kareem. He is the first of Cincinnati’s seven 2020 picks to agree to terms.