Entering his third season in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool has claimed he believes he is the top three receiver in the NFL.
Through five weeks into the 2022 season, he may not even be in the top three in the Steelers, let alone the NFL. In five games, Claypool has just 16 catch points for 129 yards and averages just 4.4 yards per goal, less than half of what he scored in his first two league seasons.
He’s also struggling to deliver plays in contested hunting situations, and with the rising wide receiver George Pickens emerging as a legitimate Type I receiver, commercial speculation about Claypool is starting to surface.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell was the latest to come up with the idea of trading Claypool Thursday morning on ESPN.com, Once again Claypool pitched to Green Bay the idea of the trade. According to Barnwell’s idea, the Steelers would ship Claypool and the 2024 seventh-round draft to the Packers for wide receiver Amari Rodgers and the 2023 fourth-round pick.
“The writing on the wall for Claypool, who still looks like he’s out of sorts in Pittsburgh,” Barnwell writes regarding his business idea for Claypool to the Packers. Having looked like a budding star during his first debut season in 2020, he took a step back in 2021 and was an unknown in attack this season. He averaged just over 2.0 yards per track as a rookie but dropped to 1.7 yards per track in 2021 and just 0.7 This season, the latter ranks 87th out of a broad 92nd.
“Claypool will likely not be on this list in 2024, and the Steelers could use additional picks after they replaced their picks in the fifth and sixth rounds of 2023.”
At this point in the season, he’s been a huge disappointment, seeming generally lost and mostly uninterested in the times when football doesn’t come his way. After a stellar rookie season in which he looked like the Steelers’ next big future, he’s slipped over the past two years and doesn’t look like he’s had a big role in Pittsburgh.
That could all change going forward after the Steelers switched to rookie Kenny Pickett under center, but as Barnwell pointed out, there is very little chance of Claypool on the Steelers after his rookie contract expires after the 2023 season. He sits at 1-4 and things look like they’re going to increase Worse before it gets better, maybe it’s time for the Steelers to start selling some pieces that aren’t in the long-term plans?
Getting a player like Rodgers in return wouldn’t do much offensively for the Steelers, though he might boost the second leg under Danny Smith, at least for now. Offensively, in two seasons at Green Bay, he had only four catches for 45 yards, all of which came in the junior season.
Outside of Claypool’s proposed deal to the Packers, Barnwell pitched the idea of sending Steelers veteran quarterback Mitch Trubesky to the Denver Broncos for a tight third year end Albert Okwijpunam.
Two disappointing players swap each other, while tackling situations of need, is unimaginable.
“Two pre-season hype machines go in different directions. Trubsky’s start time in Pittsburgh is over, and the first player will likely be cut in 2017 after the season, given his unsecured base salary of $8 million in 2023. Deals Wilson is already texting with an injury in Denver, and his backup is Brett Ribbian, who threw four interceptions in 40 attempts in 2020. Trubesky isn’t a base-caliber quarterback, but his mobility makes him an acceptable backup should Wilson need to waste time,” Barnwell writes about the Steelers’ virtual dispatch of Trubisky to Mile High City.
It would make sense for the Steelers to consider charging Trubisky to get something in return. He’s unlikely to see the second year of his deal in Pittsburgh with the reins handed over to Beckett full-time, and it wouldn’t make sense to keep him as a backup at $8 million for 2023.
Denver could use depth behind Russell Wilson, who is – as Barnwell points out – injured and not playing well at all. It would be a promotion at the Broncos’ reserve quarterback and would allow Trubsky to move on from a frustrating situation.
For Okwuegbunam, Barnwell thinks a change of scenery for a tight third year end would be a good thing, landing in Pittsburgh where only Pat Freymouth and Conor Heyward are contracted to the position in 2023.
“Okwuegbunam was a fantasy sleeper heading into 2022, but he fell into the Broncos tight end depth chart. He has noticed his snapshots dropping in four straight weeks to start the season, going from 67% in Week 1 to a single shot in Week 4. Okwuegbunam is back Back to 21% in Week 5, but the Broncos also active second-round pick Greg Dolch from injured reserve, which could cost Albert or his place in the squad.It would be a tight end to support the Steelers behind Freiermuth, and play a role similar to what Eric Ebron did for Pittsburgh season. Past , ” Barnwell writes.
Okwuegbunam isn’t much of a hitch, so he wouldn’t generally fit in as a potential No. 2 tight end in 2023, if the Steelers let Zach Gentry run. However, it’s a large-bodied weapon that could thrive in the City of Steel under Beckett, giving the Steelers two legitimate, moveable sides alongside Freiermuth.
This doesn’t make as much sense as Claypool’s suggestion does, but an interesting name coming back from Barnwell raises some possibilities.
The NFL 2022 trading deadline is November 1.