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Is there any truth to the Chase Claypool narrative?

Is the Bears’ organization down on Chase Claypool? Greg Gabriel has a different take on the situation.

Chicago Bears Offseason Workout Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

This almost seems like a continuation of the post I wrote a few days ago about false narratives on social media. But this is something that needs to be said. If I hadn't spent most of my adult life working in the business of NFL football, I probably couldn't care, but because I have, it bothers me.

The NFL offseason is slow as far as news once the Draft ends. Yes, the offseason programs begin, and that includes OTAs and mini-camps. With those come dramatic narratives that often have no truth, but it creates hits and hits equals money.

Last year at this time, the narrative was all about Bears offensive lineman Tevin Jenkins. Jenkins was the Chicago Bears' second-round pick in 2021 by the Ryan Pace regime, and they pegged him as their left tackle of the future. Jenkins injured his back early, needed corrective surgery, and missed a good part of the preseason and the regular season. So right away, the narrative began that it was a wasted pick. Why does that happen? People in the media and fans want instant gratification from a player with production on the field. When they don't get it, they're pissed, and the negativity begins.

When the Ryan Poles/Matt Eberflus regime took over last year, they felt that Jenkins was better off at guard after a few days of the offseason program. So what happens? The narrative becomes Jenkins is a bust, he doesn't work hard, the Bears are going to get rid of him, etc. All of that was false. As we saw, once the season began, Jenkins played like one of the better guards in football. His upside at the position is unlimited.

Yes, Jenkins wasn't happy about having to move to a new position (few players are when asked to play a new role), but he worked at it and became very good at his new position. As he said this week in a presser, he now really enjoys playing guard, and that's his new "job title." All that negative narrative from last year has gone away and mainly because it was never true in the first place. It was made up!

That brings us to this year and the new negative narrative surrounding Chase Claypool. When Ryan Poles made the trade to acquire Claypool, many fans were excited until they found out what Poles had to give up in order to make the trade.

At the time, the Bears had two second-round draft picks for the 2023 Draft. When the trade was made, it was assumed that Poles gave up the pick acquired from Baltimore in the Roquan Smith trade, but no, it was the Bears' pick that he traded.

If you look back at when the deal was made, Poles had no choice but to use that pick. Two other clubs with worse records than Baltimore also offered second-round picks for Claypool. In order for the trade to be made Poles had to give up Chicago's pick. As we all know, that pick ended up being the first in the second round, and so many in the media and fans felt it was an awful trade.

As I said above, people want instant gratification when a new player is brought in, and that didn't happen in the case of Claypool. The Bears' decision-makers, and anyone who knew and understood the Bears' offensive scheme, knew it would be the 2023 season when the deal paid off.

Within an hour of that trade being made, I got a call from a friend of mine in the League who works for the Rams. As you know, the Rams and Bears' offensive schemes are very similar regarding terminology and concepts. This friend of mine told me, "Don't expect much out of Claypool this year. The offense is a bitch to learn, especially for receivers. He'll show what he can do next year."

I mentioned that at the time but of course no one listened. Many expected Claypool to be the lead receiver from day one. When that didn't happen, the negativity began. It didn't matter that Justin Fields got hurt shortly after the trade was made, followed by Chase getting banged up, so any chance to develop chemistry was slowed. But with some, it's always, "Don't let the facts get in the way of a negative narrative."

When the pick the Bears gave up for Claypool turned out to be the 32nd pick in the Draft, that gave the naysayers even more ammunition to criticize the deal. Both Claypool and Poles were put into a no-win situation in regards to that trade. In the minds of many, Claypool would have to be All-Pro this year for that trade to be determined as a successful trade.

Let's fast forward a little. Earlier this week there was a report that the Bears are unhappy with Claypool both on and off the field. They are supposedly concerns about his work ethic, among other things. We already know that there is a group that never liked the trade, so this gave them more ammunition to voice their narrative.

I don't usually like to talk about private conversations I have with people in the League, but in this case, I feel I need to. Earlier this spring, I had a long conversation with Ryan Poles. We talked about several things, including free agency, the Draft, what he felt the team needed, and of course the Chase Claypool trade.

Poles told me he realized that many fans and media were unhappy with the trade because he had to give up what turned out to be the 32nd pick. He also said that the results of the trade have not been seen yet and that he fully expects Claypool to have a big year. He added, "If I had the chance to do the trade all over, it would take me about five seconds to say yes."

Does that sound like a General Manager with control over the 53-man roster being disgruntled with Chase Claypool? Hardly! This is just the Tevin Jenkins BS all over again, just using a different player.

If you have listened to the coaches and players in their press conferences during OTAs and mini-camp, you have heard nothing but praise about Claypool. If you have listened closely to all the different pressers since Poles and Flus have been here, they let it be known when they have a problem with a player. They don't throw him under the bus, but they let it be known that they expect more. With Claypool, there has been none of that, just positives.

What it gets down to is — don't believe everything you hear, especially if it's negative. In most cases, it's a narrative that some want to push regardless of if it's true or not. In this case, there is no truth to the rumor