One player who will not be taking part on the field early on: wide receiver Chase Claypool.
“The Bears have placed WR Chase Claypool on the PUP list,” tweeted ESPN NFL analyst Field Yates on July 23, listing the pass catcher alongside wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. of the Detroit Lions and K.J. Hamler of the Denver Broncos. He missed a chunk of OTAs after dealing with some “soft tissue” issues, per head coach Matt Eberflus.
Claypool, 25, caught 14 passes for 140 yards in 10 games (three starts) with the Bears after being traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even his short debut act with the Bears was interrupted by an injury.
Bears Place WR Chase Claypool on PUP List
Another Setback for Bears’ Chase Claypool
The Bears sent a second-round pick to the Steelers for Claypool. That turned into the No. 32 overall pick, a steep price to pay for the production they got in return.
This is another setback for a player who has fought negative perceptions about his work ethic.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool responding to those that think he’s not training enough this offseason.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) July 16, 2023
Bears quarterback Justin Fields essentially came to Claypool’s defense. He said the former No. 49 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft was progressing in those key areas when asked which players he was looking forward to seeing this season
“Chase has improved tremendously just from the end of last year to now,” Fields said via the Bears’ Twitter feed on May 23. “That’s one thing I’m truly proud to say. Just seeing his work ethic, his attitude changed. You can just see he’s taken another step. So definitely excited for that.”
Still, it’s an inauspicious start to his first full season in Chicago and the final year of his contract.
Claypool will count towards the 90-man roster while on the list. But he can be activated off the list at any time, as Anthony Holzman-Escareno of NFL.com explained in 2022:
Players can be removed from the list at any time during camp, but can’t be placed back on the list. Players on this list as of final roster cutdowns must be placed on the Reserve/PUP, released, traded or counted against the 53-man roster.
Had the Bears waited until after roster cutdowns, Claypool would have landed on the “reserve” PUP list – rather than the “active” PUP list. He would have had to miss the first four games of the regular season. That could be far too long with the Bears revamping his position this offseason.
Bears Not Banking on Chase Claypool
Bears general manager Ryan Poles traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers even as his own team was coming off a 3-14 campaign. He did so, in part, because he already had Fields in tow.
But he also insisted upon receiving wide receiver D.J. Moore in the deal as well.
Moore arrives with three separate 1000-yard seasons under his belt. He fell just 112 yards shy of having his fourth in a row this past season despite a carousel of passers in Carolina. He would be the team’s all-time leading receiver had he amassed his 5200-plus yards in a Bears uniform, besting Johnny Morris who last suited up in 1967, per Pro Football Reference.
They also have fourth-year man Darnell Mooney returning from ankle surgery that curtailed his 2022 season. Mooney declared himself fully healthy in June. His absence from today’s reports suggests the same which is a double-edged sword for Claypool.
He will draw less attention from the opposing defense, sure.
But he will also have to also contend for targets, not just with Mooney and Moore. But also tight end Robert Tonyan – whom the Bears signed in free agency from the rival Green Bay Packers, their Week 1 opponent. It’s a fine line to walk for a player whose role was reduced prior to him being traded from the team that drafted him.