New Dolphins wide receiver Chase Claypool has now been traded twice under his rookie contract with both of the teams trading him away doing so with criticisms that have nothing to do with his talent. The former second-round pick out of Notre Dame will have a chance to start anew in Miami, but the most recent developments in his career lead to a few points of interest.
Firstly, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reflected on reports that came out about Claypool shortly after his initial trade from Pittsburgh to Chicago. The team had just used a second-round pick to add former Georgia wide out George Pickens. Additionally, the Steelers had just rewarded Diontae Johnson with a two-year, $36.71MM contract extension. The team was staking its claim on the pieces of the receiving corps it wanted to move forward with in the future, and all the while, Claypool was struggling to find where he fit in.
After a rookie season that saw him record 873 receiving yards for an outstanding nine touchdown receptions (and two more on the ground) and a sophomore outing where he nearly matched his receiving yards total while only catching two scores, Claypool struggled through much of the first few weeks of the 2022 season as Johnson and Pickens dominated the target share in the position room.
As he struggled, it was reported that there were internal issues concerning Claypool in Pittsburgh. He had reportedly become a “distraction” behind the scenes, and his trade was the result of weeks of effort trying to unload the problematic receiver. Those same vibes seem to be apparent in his departure from Chicago, where concerns about his effort on the field led to him being a healthy scratch from games as the Bears worked to offload him.
Many of the sources reporting these internal issues seem to hold the opinion that, at only 25 years old, Claypool has all the time in the world to turn his career around. He clearly has the talent that he displayed in his rookie year and should still be able to access it. Even better, he’s now landed in what could be a perfect opportunity to turn things around.
In Miami, Claypool becomes a low-risk, high-reward prospect for a team that can afford to swing and miss. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel even told the media that the team “wasn’t looking for another wide receiver, but this was a good chance to pounce on (an) opportunity that presented itself,” according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
To support McDaniel’s claim, Miami leads the league in total offense by a wide margin, thanks in large part to their league-leading 1,337 passing yards to date, which is even more than the two teams who have already played five games this season. Last year, the team’s top two wideouts, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, combined for 3,066 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns. This year, they added All-Pro return specialist and slot receiver Braxton Berrios, as well. Clearly, the team is well-stocked at the wide receiver position.
So, why not take a shot on Claypool for such a low asking price? Claypool, at 6-foot-4, adds a body type not present in the corps’ top three listed above, as none of Hill, Waddle, or Berrios even reach 5-foot-11. Claypool also doesn’t lack for top-end speed, an aspect of the game that the Dolphins clearly covet. The door is wide open for Claypool to walk through. He’s once again with a contending franchise and should be fighting for his life for his next NFL contract. Miami could be the perfect place to get it done.
This does seem to bring up some questions about the other big receiver in the corps, Cedrick Wilson. Miami signed him to a three-year, $22.8M contract last season before he got outplayed by Trent Sherfield for the WR3 spot. It was even reported in the offseason that the team was willing to trade Wilson. He’s continued to struggle to find the field this year, as well. With a potentially more capable big body in Claypool coming in, the Dolphins might view Wilson as even more expendable and look to find a trade partner who might reimburse their lost sixth-round pick.
Regardless, Claypool heads to South Beach with the opportunity to revive his flailing NFL career. He’ll have to work hard to find snaps behind Hill, Waddle, and Berrios, but his big frame provides him with the chance to earn some situational snaps and eventually expand his role. Miami may be his last chance to get himself together and stay in the NFL.