Chase Claypool’s forgettable tenure with the Bears ended with both a thud and a breath of fresh air for the receiver.
Chicago sent him to Miami for a late-round pick swap, admitting defeat in its 2022 attempt to supply Justin Fields with a bigger-bodied playmaker. Claypool, meanwhile, received a new start with a contender, where he’ll have to make a greater effort than he did with the Bears to crack the Dolphins’ talented lineup.
“One thing that you have to do on this team is you have to earn the privilege to play with a group of guys on the only place that matters,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday, “and that’s grass.”
Claypool did not earn such a right with the Bears, where his effort was rightfully criticized in Chicago’s Week 1 loss to Green Bay. A week later, he increased his intensity enough to catch three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown but was told to stay home instead of reporting for work less than two weeks later, effectively ending his time with the Bears.
With almost no negotiating leverage, the Bears rid themselves of off-field drama by trading Claypool to Miami, where his new teammates have been impressed by his 6-foot-4 frame.
“I told him, he looks like a freaking machine moving out there,” receiver Jaylen Waddle said. “He’s got a big frame, that’s one thing that stands out. For his size, he is picking them up and putting them down, so I’m excited to see him play.”
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Claypool’s athleticism has never been questioned. He racked up over 1,700 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Steelers by using his size and ability to his advantage, but at this point, that feels like it happened ages ago.
Now that he’s with a team that possesses a capable offense, Claypool has an opportunity to salvage his reputation as a playmaker, provided he proves he’s worth a spot in Miami’s speedy offense.
“I think I just (will) be the same person I’ve been in terms of being a teammate,” Claypool explained when asked what it will take for him to earn playing time in Miami. “I know I’m a good teammate. I don’t have to do anything extra to like — don’t have to do too much to try and prove that. Just be myself, and I’m excited about being around a new group of guys and showing them what I can do.”
If Claypool needs a reason to be motivated with the Dolphins, he’ll find plenty. Miami’s offense is as explosive as it gets, resetting the record for the most total yards gained through a team’s first five games in a season, surpassing the 2000 Rams with 2,568 yards. They lead the NFL in points per game (36.2), passing yards per game (327.8) and rushing yards per game (185.8). It’s a well-oiled machine; all Claypool has to do is find a fit in Miami’s transmission.
If he picks up the playbook quickly and makes a greater effort than he did in Chicago, Claypool should fit in just fine. This offense won’t struggle with finding a way to use his talents. And he just might fix his reputation in the process.
“I think this is an opportunity for guys in our locker room to see who he is and for him to express himself to the guys in the locker room,” quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said. “We’re going to base our opinions and things about Chase or any other person that we end up acquiring off of really our own opinions.”
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