Reaction to Bears Swinging Surprise Trade to Help Justin Fields

Bears Prove Justin Fields

This seemed to be shaping up as a fire sale for the Chicago Bears – first, they traded EDGE Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles and, then, Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens. The Bears seemed to be leaning even further into a rebuild that began this past summer with the hiring of Ryan Poles as the team’s new general manager.

Both deals were for draft capital and signaled an eye toward a still-uncertain future. Who else could be traded? What will the Bears do with the picks – will they take a quarterback?

They just answered the most important of those questions with yet another deal by sending their own 2023 second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for wide receiver Chase Claypool, according to ESPN‘s Field Yates. Claypool, 24, is a 6-foot-4, 238-pounder with 4.42 speed and 1.5 years remaining on his rookie contract.

How did they make out?

Bears Prove They Are All-In on Justin Fields With Latest Move

Bears Prove Commitment to Justin Fields

It was initially reported that the Bears were sending the second-rounder they got from the Ravens to Pittsburgh. But that was later clarified as they sent their own which, as NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo pointed out, currently sits 13 spots higher in the draft than the one they kept. This led to some lamentation over the price.

But dealings behind the scenes informed the Bears’ decision. And this is a player they like and think can help lift Fields.

Claypool has 32 receptions for 311 yards this season on a Steelers team being entrusted to rookie Kenny Pickett. They also have promising youngster George Pickens and veteran Dionte Johnson. That left Claypool as the odd man out on a run-heavy team. And the Bears make perfect sense as a landing spot. He instantly steps in as the team leader in receptions while sitting second behind incumbent top option Darnell Mooney in yards.

He is coming off back-to-back 800-yard seasons with Pittsburgh with late-30s Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback. Those Steelers teams did not push the ball down the field as they used to or as Fields can and should more often now.

“I like the way Justin is trending,” Poles told reporters, “and I think adding another big body — who is physical, explosive, great leaping ability, can stretch the field but also is violent with the ball in his hand as well as a blocker — that enhances everyone around him.”

Consider that Fields’ 6.7 air yards per attempt currently rank 18th in the league. That is better than either year of Roethlisberger with Claypool. But even more importantly, he ranks third in yards per completion behind only Tua Tagovailoa and Zach Wilson both of whom have missed multiple games this season.

The Bears are still set to have eight picks in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as a ton of cap space.

Claypool in Bears’ WR Room

For his part, Claypool has caught 64% of his passes. That’s nearly 6% more than Mooney and the highest of his career. But he is also seeing his fewest yards per target of his career by nearly two full yards. That should certainly change as he moves from the modest arm talent of Kenny Pickett and former Bears passer Mitchell Trubisky to the rocket-armed Fields.

The downside is that he steps in with a lower Pro Football Focus grade than most of the group ahead of only Dante Pettis and the released Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

There are effort and maturity questions about Claypool who has had lapses in concentration on the floor resulting in drops.

But as the old saying goes, one team’s “trash” could turn out to be another’s treasure as there is at least some belief the fit is solid for the fledgling Bears.

“Great get for the Bears,” one league source told Chicago Tribune Bears beat writer Brad Biggs. “He’s a playmaker, though not the cleanest hands. Hopefully, he stays focused in the big city and off social media. He loves attention.”

How much will his new situation help that?

He gets to reunite with a familiar face. Former Notre Dame and current Bears tight end Cole Kmet, who was taken six picks ahead of Claypool in the 2023 NFL Draft, is still here. Both are big targets – along with Equinameous St. Brown and N’Keal Harry – for Fields whose accuracy has fluctuated at times.

Bears Setting the Trend

In recent years we have seen teams give up draft capital for No. 1 receiving options. Davante Adams going to the Las Vegas Raiders, A.J. Brown going to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Tyreek Hill going to the Miami Dolphins are just some of the most recent dealings. There are others. Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns, Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, and the list goes on.

Make no mistake, Claypool is not on the same level as they are.

But he could be a lot better than anything the Bears could find on the open market next summer when the crop of available talent projects to be less than impressive.

This shifting of assets from the defense to the offense is a clear signal the Bears are sold on Fields. We might not have been able to say that just a few short weeks ago. But the second-year quarterback has done a lot with the little he was given to begin the year. Now, the Bears are ready to put more of their resources into him.

It is also notable that they did not trade running back David Montgomery despite rumors.

They are done for now with the deadline passed. But the safe bet would be for even more resources to go toward that side of the ball next offseason.

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