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Chicago Bears trade Chase Claypool to the Miami Dolphins with an exchange of late-round 2025 draft picks

The Chicago Bears traded wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Miami Dolphins on Friday, ending the 25-year-old’s short and rocky tenure with the franchise.

The Bears are sending a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Dolphins with Claypool and will receive a 2025 sixth-round pick in exchange, the teams announced. The deal is pending a physical.

In need of more help for quarterback Justin Fields last season, Bears general manager Ryan Poles acquired Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 1 for a 2023 second-round pick that ended up being the No. 32 pick in the draft.

Claypool took a long time to assimilate to the offense in 2022 and totaled just 14 catches for 140 yards in seven games. He was expected to be the Bears’ second or third receiver behind DJ Moore this season but had only four catches on 14 targets for 51 yards and a touchdown in three games.

His effort and blocking in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers came under such scrutiny inside and outside Halas Hall that he met with coaches and teammates about it, and Poles set a public ultimatum for Claypool to meet a higher standard of play.

“You’re always disappointed in this situation, and it’s definitely something I take ownership of,” Poles said on the team’s pregame radio show Thursday. “Last year in the situation we were in, I wanted to add another receiver to the offense not only to help us be more productive, but also help Justin take the next step. So the right thought process was there, and I feel comfortable with that.

“Unfortunately it didn’t work out, and we were hoping for him to be a little bit more productive and be someone that can help us take it to the next level. Obviously unfortunate where we are.”

The Bears parting with Claypool had to do with more than his lack of production on the field. Coaches and teammates made no secret that Claypool is an emotional person and player, and they talked openly about how he needed to channel that positively.

The team made Claypool a healthy scratch for their Weeks 4 and 5 games, going so far as to ask him to stay away from Soldier Field for Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos and to stay home from Halas Hall this week leading up to Thursday’s 40-20 victory over the Washington Commanders.

Coach Matt Eberflus said the Bears thought Claypool staying home was “best for the team.”

“When you’re evaluating players in meetings, in practice, in walk-throughs, all those things, it’s important that you evaluate the entire body of work, right?” Eberflus said when asked why Claypool was benched. “And we just feel that right now Chase is going to be out of the building. It’s best for our football team.”

The Bears benching Claypool came after he told reporters that he didn’t feel like coaches were using him in the best way to highlight his strengths.

“Every situation has the ability to be ideal and I think we’re just working toward that,” Claypool said then. “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 do with what you’ve got.”

The Dolphins in fact have the best passing offense in the NFL. Whether Claypool shapes up enough to make a difference there remains to be seen.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel told Miami reporters he thought the addition was an “exciting opportunity” and said he won’t let rumors about Claypool’s work ethic and demeanor affect the chance they give him.

“Everybody hears things,” McDaniel said. “It’s very, very important that you let people tell you who they are. I see better than I hear. … We give you the opportunity to define who you are in the most honest, organic, real way possible. That’s an open mind, clean slate, let’s go.

“You hear stuff left and right. I’ve been in the league long enough to know that circumstances can be all sorts of different things. I don’t downplay what he’s gone through. He went through it. You give an opportunity and you allow someone to follow their dream, put the control in their own hands and show teammates each and every day what you’re really about. That is an opportunity that we’re happy to afford him. … He’ll start as a Dolphin and be able to earn whatever place he wants within the locker room based upon his actions on a daily basis. Our standard of commitment and work ethic, it’ll be very clear what that is.”

Claypool, a 2020 second-round draft pick by the Steelers out of Notre Dame, is in a contract year, and Poles speculated that contributed to some of his issues with the Bears.

“I always look at things from a player’s perspective,” Poles said. “You have a player going into his free-agent year who wants to be productive and help his career out, and when things aren’t going the right way, sometimes you get emotional and things don’t work out and you struggle to blend in and stay resilient with the rest of the crew.

“Chase is going to learn from this situation — we all will — and I wish him luck moving forward throughout his career.”

Players seemed to be aware earlier this week that Claypool’s time with the Bears might be coming to a close.

When asked about the situation Tuesday, Fields said he believed Claypool knew he “messed up” with his comments to the media and he wished the wide receiver “nothing but the best.”

Tight end Cole Kmet, Claypool’s former teammate at Notre Dame, said it was “really unfortunate that it has panned out the way it has.”

“Losing can be hard for guys to deal with,” Kmet said. “But we’ve all got to be adults about it and be able to move on and be able to trust the process (that’s) set. That can be hard to do sometimes when things aren’t going your way and maybe you’re not getting the targets you want and you’re not winning.

“All those things add up and you get frustrated, but you have to be a man about it, be an adult about it and be able to reset your mind each and every week and just look to improve yourself individually each and every day.”

Eberflus said he and Poles spoke with Claypool over the phone Friday morning and wished him well.

“I really don’t have any regrets on that,” Eberflus said of the situation. “I just think that we took a shot on a guy to bring more skill in here and for whatever reason … it just didn’t work out.”

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