It’s been all talk from Chase Claypool from the moment he set foot in Halas Hall.
He spoke about being a great leader in his opening news conference when the Bears traded a second-round pick to the Steelers for him last November and added that they were getting “a guy who’s always going to work,” even though that wasn’t his reputation in Pittsburgh.
He also had an eye on a contract extension, and general manager Ryan Poles indicated at the time that possibility incentivized him to make the deal.
Now it looks like the Bears can’t get rid of him fast enough.
They made Claypool a healthy scratch Sunday against the Broncos, signaling the complete collapse of what has turned out to be Poles’ biggest error as GM. It’d be no surprise if the Bears traded him for a late-round draft pick or cut him soon.
Claypool wasn’t on the sideline during the game with the rest of the inactive players.
He got benched two days after he said the Bears weren’t putting him in the best position to succeed — the same criticism he fired at the Steelers after the trade — and saying of his role in the sputtering offense, “You just have to make do with what you’ve got.”
The Bears likely hadn’t decided on inactives at the time Claypool said that. It’s probable those comments were the last in a long list of reasons to sit him.
Going public with discontent was a bold play from someone who just two weeks earlier had to apologize to teammates and coaches for his poor effort in the season opener against the Packers. Coach Matt Eberflus hedged when asked that week if he’d bench Claypool in favor of Equanimeous St. Brown, who doesn’t have Claypool’s natural talent but does everything right.
Every step of this situation has been a mistake by the Bears, starting with Poles believing he knew something the Steelers didn’t, and the most recent one was Eberflus letting Claypool stay in the lineup against the Buccaneers after the way he played in the opener.
A coach who built his entire philosophy around a H.I.T.S. principle in which every letter basically stands for effort cannot allow a halfway performance to slide, but Eberflus did. It was especially puzzling considering Claypool has not produced even as a receiving threat during his time with the Bears.
He managed just 14 catches for 140 yards with no touchdowns in seven games last season, and everyone in the organization defended him at every turn. Eberflus, quarterback Justin Fields, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, position coach Tyke Tolbert, Darnell Mooney and others shielded him by saying to be patient while he learned the new system.
Claypool supposedly got all caught up in the offseason, but had just four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets in the first three games.