Why is Chase Claypool still a Chicago Bear?
That was already a question after his abysmal effort on the field in Week 1 which would’ve gotten most players benched or cut on a competent team. (Not to mention his open on-field sulking at not getting the football against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.)
But his comments during Friday’s media availability took things to another level.
When asked by ESPN’s Courtney Cronin whether or not he felt the Chicago Bears were using him in the best way to maximize his abilities, Claypool considered his options with slow relish before deciding to answer “no.”
“No, I wouldn’t say that,” Claypool continued when asked if he felt he was in an ideal situation. “I think every situation has the ability to be ideal and I think we’re just working towards that. I’m not going to say that. I wouldn’t say it’s not an ideal place for me. Obviously there’s other places — you can say, ‘Oh, I want to be on the best offense with the highest passing yards’ but that doesn’t happen in football. You just have to make due with what you got.”
He then added he wasn’t going to “give any pointers” to the coaching staff about how he felt he should be used and would simply “do what they tell me to do.”
Now, one could point to Claypool being just the latest Bears player or coach to seemingly point the finger at issues other than themselves for the team’s early struggles, joining Justin Fields’ frustration-based “coaching” comments, Luke Getsy’s passive-aggressive weekly displays at the podium or even D.J. Moore appearing to diss the Bears offense to a Tampa Bay Bucs player in Week 2.
A long losing streak and failing to meet high preseason expectations will do that to you.
But the lack of self-awareness and humility being displayed here is staggering.
Claypool, who is in a contract year after the Bears traded the No. 32 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft for him, is barely two weeks removed from having multiple come-to-Jesus meetings with coaches and fellow players after an all-around disaster against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
And he has the nerve to talk about how he’s being used on offense?
At this point, his best usage should be keeping the bench warm for Moore and Darnell Mooney for when they come off the field or taking notes on how Equanimeous St. Brown blocks in the screen game. (If St. Brown is inactive in Week 4 in favor of Claypool, you have to question if the Bears have any respect for themselves. No one would’ve put that on the bingo card to start the 2023 season.)
Then, the Bears should be looking to save $2.9 million against the salary cap by launching Claypool into the sun on Monday morning.
Here is the exchange with Chase Claypool on his belief he's not being utilized to showcase his strengths beginning with the 2 questions I asked. The assumption that quotes from players are cherrypicked is something I take offense to, so you can see it verbatim for yourself. pic.twitter.com/EdqTcTo9wT— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) September 29, 2023
Chicago probably won’t do that because “it’s still early,” and general manager Ryan Poles likely doesn’t want to admit defeat on Claypool just yet.
But it’s hard to be a team of culture and hard work with a guy like that in your locker room. In fact, every minute he remains on the roster contradicts that mission and insults the other players trying to live it out.
The sad thing is that Claypool is right – the Bears haven’t used anyone the right way in the passing game. We’re just not trying to hear that from him.
Fortunately, perhaps there’s some addition-by-subtraction to be done here. Now that Claypool has basically marked himself for elimination, maybe that would allow Moore and Mooney to get the target share of a true 1-2 combo without Claypool getting in the way. You may also have noted Tyler Scott got a few touches last week and could see his role increase.
Who knows? Claypool might be the solution to the problem he’s talking about – by getting himself removed from the equation.
If the Bears don’t either start making Claypool inactive or move on from him, they’re not serious about winning.