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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears have acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers at the trade deadline in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick, it was announced Tuesday.
The pick going to the Steelers is Chicago’s own selection and not the 2023 second-round pick that it received Monday after trading linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens.
This is the third move executed at the trade deadline by first-year general manager Ryan Poles. The Bears also sent defensive end Robert Quinn to Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round pick on Wednesday.
Claypool, a 2020 second-round pick by Pittsburgh, has 153 catches for 2,044 yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two-plus seasons. Ten of Claypool’s touchdowns came as a rookie.
The acquisition provides Bears quarterback Justin Fields with help at the receiver position. Darnell Mooney leads Chicago in receiving production with 25 catches for 364 yards and no touchdowns through eight games. No other Bears wideout has more than 164 receiving yards or 11 catches, marks that both belong to Equanimeous St. Brown.
“… You can never have enough weapons and guys that help your quarterback gain confidence,” Poles said Tuesday. “I know a lot of the guys are starting to make plays for us. Adding another receiver is going to allow him to continue to grow and gain that confidence.”
The Bears now have two big-body threats at wide receiver. At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Claypool gives Chicago a speedy vertical threat, and N’Keal Harry (6-4, 225) has the ability to make contested catches and win one-on-ones in the red zone.
Claypool also brings an element the Bears have not used much this season. Since 2020, his 508 yards off tight-window throws are the fifth most in the league, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Claypool, 24, was at practice Tuesday afternoon and briefly spoke with the media at his locker afterward about his bye week approach and discussions in the wide receiver room.
He left the locker room shortly after the interview. With a few minutes left in the open locker room period, news broke that the wide receiver was heading to Chicago. The room was emptying out, but players who were still around got noticeably quieter, including a group of receivers huddled around a phone.
He later addressed the trade on social media, tweeting: “I will always have an unbelievable amount of love for Steelers Nation and the organization that drafted me out of Notre Dame. I am beyond grateful for the amazing people in Pittsburgh for embracing me & the lifelong memories made. Now… Back to business in the Midwest.”
Without Claypool, Steelers receiver Miles Boykin will likely get more targets.
Fields has made considerable progress in each of his past two games, increasing his passer rating from 72.7 in Weeks 1-6 to 103.4 in Weeks 7-8, including reaching the best passer rating of his career (120.0) in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Claypool is under contract through the 2023 season, which “helps” the Bears with their plan to build out their wide receiver room, Poles said.
The lack of big-name receivers that would be in play for the Bears during free agency — a group whose most notable players are A.J. Green, Allen Lazard, JuJu Smith-Schuster and DJ Chark — influenced Chicago’s decision to find help in the short term instead of waiting until March and the draft to address that need.
“Yeah, that’s part of my job and part of my crew upstairs, is you have to do a little bit of forecasting and looking down the road,” Poles said. “I just didn’t feel completely comfortable with that. Not to say that there’s not good players there. I just didn’t feel comfortable with not maybe a little bit more aggressive at this point.”
Poles also addressed what went into Chicago’s decision to trade Smith and expressed disappointment that the team and the 25-year-old linebacker could not agree on an extension prior to the season.
“There’s part of me that’s bummed because this was a guy that I thought was going to be here for a long time,” Poles said. “I felt like we put a lot of effort forward to get that done, and we came up short. We couldn’t find common ground. And that’s just a part of this business, which I think we all understand.”
Smith demanded a trade on Aug. 9 after contract talks fell through. He ended his hold-in two weeks later and led the NFL in tackles (83) through Chicago’s first eight games while adding 2.5 sacks and two interceptions.
Poles cited a “difference in value” as the reason behind Chicago’s decision to ultimately move on from the linebacker on Monday. There was little belief from the Bears front office that the team and Smith would be able to agree to a number if the two sides got back to the negotiating table this offseason.
“The reality of it is that you have to ask yourself a question: Are we ever going to find that middle ground? And from our previous conversations, you gather that information and it felt like it was highly unlikely,” Poles said. “So then are you able to then take the opportunity to enhance your roster now? Or are you OK with the chance that he walks away and we can’t use some of that to enhance our roster. And that’s what it came down to, and I felt like we had to move forward at that time.”