On Monday afternoon, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters that he and general manager Ryan Poles had spoken with Claypool earlier in the morning and informed him that he would not be in the building for the short week ahead of their Week 5 matchup with the Washington Commanders for Thursday Night Football.
The decision comes after the Bears made Claypool a healthy scratch against the Denver Broncos in Week 4 and specifically asked him to stay home instead of attending the game on the sideline, as the rest of the team’s inactive players did on Sunday.
“We just feel that’s best for the team,” Eberflus said Monday. “Like we said, for in the building, we feel that’s best for the team. And really, it comes down to this: When you’re evaluating players in meetings, in practice, in walkthroughs, all those things, it’s important that you evaluate the entire body of work. And we just feel that right now Chase [being] out of the building is best for our football team.”
Eberflus had originally indicated in Sunday’s postgame that Claypool would rejoin the team and be back in the building in Week 5, but he clarified that he made his comments before having the chance to speak with Poles about the situation and that, together, they decided early Monday morning that it would be better to keep Claypool out.
“Right now, we’re just having him not be in the building this week,” Eberflus said when asked if Claypool would be out until he is either traded or waived. “Ryan does all the trades and transactions, and we’ll decide that as we go forward.”
Matt Eberflus Hints at ‘Standards’ Not Being Met
Eberflus was peppered with more than a dozen questions about Claypool during his Monday press conference and, frankly, did not shed much light on the situation. He fell back on the phrase “best for the team” quite a bit and declined to provide more context as to why he believed Claypool being inactive was “best for the team.”
“What transpired is that we informed him he was inactive and he was not going to be with the team at the game [against Denver] at that point,” Eberflus said. “And then we informed him this morning that he was not going to be here this week.”
If there was one meaningful thing to glean from Eberflus’ question-ducking, though, it was what he said about the team’s “standards” in the context of the Claypool situation when asked about the factors that led them to make their decisions with him.
“I would just say that what we think is best for the team and how we operate here as a football team with the Chicago Bears … When I came here Day 1, I talked about being on time, being respectful and working hard,” Eberflus said. “That to me is important for every individual, if it’s a staff member, a player or a coach. And that’s where we are, and we feel right now this is the best decision for us.
“I’m just saying we have standards for that. And if those standards are met, then everything’s good. If it’s not, then it’s not.”
Can Bears Find Trade Partner for Chase Claypool?
Eberflus was unwilling to say whether Claypool had played his last game for the Bears, but the writing is certainly on the wall after their latest decisions regarding his status.
So, if we assume Claypool is done, the next question naturally becomes: Can the Bears find a willing trade partner for him to get something — anything — for him before the trade deadline on October 31 and avoid having to cut him for nothing?
According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, the Bears are looking to get either a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick in return for Claypool and have been “actively calling” teams believed to be in the market for a receiver. And sure, there are teams that could stand to add more receiving talent — Carolina, New England, Tennessee — but how many of them are going to want to take a chance on Claypool after watching him fizzle out with his first two teams in (about) three years?
Putting aside the concerns about effort with Claypool, the 25-year-old has done next to nothing over his 10 career games with the Bears to suggest there is a greater potential hiding beneath the surface. He has caught 18 passes for 191 yards (10.6 yards per catch) and one touchdown on 43 targets (30.2 catch percentage) with the Bears and has been inconsistent at best when trying to operate as a run blocker in outside zone schemes.
Maybe the Bears will find someone willing to take a chance for a Day 3 pick, but it remains possible that they are left with no other choice but to cut him outright.