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Bears getting 'dynamic playmaker' in Chase Claypool

Bears receiver Chase Claypool
Bears receiver Chase Claypool

Walking off the field after practice Tuesday in Pittsburgh, receiver Chase Claypool was told that Steelers general manager Omar Khan wanted to talk to him.

With the NFL trade deadline only hours away, the third-year pro had a pretty good idea what the conversation was going to be about. So it was no surprise when he was informed that he had been dealt to the Bears in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick.

"I was grateful for the opportunity," Claypool said during his introductory press conference Wednesday at Halas Hall. "I don't have any bad blood with anyone there. It was hard to take offense because I know it was just the nature of the business."

Claypool flew to Chicago Wednesday morning and arrived at Halas Hall at about 10:30 a.m. Wearing his new No. 10 Bears jersey, he participated in a walk-through and practice.

Claypool was selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Notre Dame, where he teamed with Bears tight end Cole Kmet, center Sam Mustipher and receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Claypool appeared in 39 games with 27 starts in three seasons in Pittsburgh, catching 153 passes for 2,044 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The 6-4, 238-pounder will give quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears offense a large target who possesses strength and athleticism.

"He's a playmaker, a big body, athletic, fast, a great 50/50 ball catcher," Fields said of Claypool. "Just practicing with him and getting to throw with him a little bit, that will just help me find out what he's best at doing."

Fields plans to spend time after practices this week working with Claypool to help get the new Bears receiver up to speed. Claypool is eager to team up with the promising second-year quarterback, who has taken major strides in recent games.

"I know we're part of the same agency, so we have some common ground there," Claypool said. "I've been watching him of late in terms of their most recent primetime game. I know a lot of people are excited about how he's been playing and obviously I'm one of those people, so I'm excited to work with him."

Take a look at new Bears receiver Chase Claypool in action. In 39 career games, all with the Steelers, the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder has caught 153 passes for 2,044 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Claypool is also looking forward to pairing with Darnell Mooney, also a member of the 2020 NFL Draft class. Both in their third seasons, their stats are very similar, with Claypool registering 14 fewer receptions, six fewer yards and four more touchdowns.

"I think it could be super dynamic," Claypool said. "I think we are different receivers in a good way. We do different things well. I'll know more when I practice with him more. But I think it's going to open the offense up even more so."

It's unclear whether or how much Claypool will play Sunday when the Bears host the Dolphins at Soldier Field. The first task in his assimilation process is learning the playbook, which clearly doesn't happen overnight.

"I'm trying to take a day-by-day approach," Claypool said. "I'm not trying to figure everything out at once in terms of where I'm staying, family and this and that. I'm focusing on the playbook first and little extra meetings with coaches. That's probably just one and two."

Claypool appeared in all 16 games with six starts as a Steelers rookie, catching 62 passes for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. Last year he recorded 59 receptions for 860 yards and two TDs while playing in 15 games with 13 starts.

Claypool started each of the Steelers' first eight games this season, catching 32 passes for 311 yards and one TD. His yards-per-catch average is down from 14.1 in 2020 and 14.6 in 2021 to 9.7 in 2022, but that's likely due to how he was utilized.

"I tried a new position this year in the slot," Claypool said. "I was outside for my first two years. It wasn't quite the best fit, but it wasn't the worst either. I think maybe it actually helped me in terms of playing all three [receiver] positions on the field."

Informed by a reporter that Bears fans are stoked by his arrival, Claypool responded by saying they're getting a player who has transitioned into a leader, will always work hard and loves being in Chicago.

"I'm a playmaker and I'm excited to make plays," Claypool said. "I feel like I didn't have the full opportunity to show what I can do this year, but I think I've been able to show that in the past. I'm excited to be able to gain that trust with Justin too, where he knows if he needs a play he can come to me and, frankly, any receiver out there. So a dynamic playmaker is the guy that the Bears are getting."

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