Ex-Bears Scout Tears Apart ‘False’ Narrative About $6.6 Million Starter

Gabriel Claypool False

Getty There have been some conflicting reports about Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool, left, over the past week.

The latest rumor buzz about Chase Claypool has given the impression that the fourth-year receiver is not living up to the Chicago Bears’ expectations for him so far in the 2023 offseason, but former Bears scout Greg Gabriel begs to differ.

In a June 17 article for Windy City Gridiron, Gabriel called out the “false” narrative that has emerged about Claypool in the last week, spawning from Marc Silverman — co-host of ESPN 1000’s ‘Waddle & Silvy’ — saying on the air that he has heard from “a few people inside” the organization that Claypool “isn’t trending in the right direction.”

“All I can tell you is, it isn’t trending in a way that the Bears have wanted it to trend in this offseason,” Silverman said last Wednesday, June 14. “Chase Claypool is a guy that they have wanted to see some things from. They have not been able to see those things from him, on and off the field. All those things don’t sound great for Claypool going into training camp on where they think he’s going to be.”

Hearing that report, Gabriel felt compelled to share details of a “private conversation” he had with Bears general manager Ryan Poles back in the spring, one that included the two of them discussing his decision to trade a premium draft pick for Claypool last fall.

“Poles told me he realized that many fans and media were unhappy with the trade because he had to give up what turned out to be the 32nd pick,” Gabriel wrote. “He also said that the results of the trade have not been seen yet and that he fully expects Claypool to have a big year. He added, ‘If I had the chance to do the trade all over, it would take me about five seconds to say yes.'”

Gabriel also closed out with a friendly reminder about offseason news: “Don’t believe everything you hear, especially if it’s negative. In most cases, it’s a narrative that some want to push regardless of if it’s true or not. In this case, there s no truth to the rumor.”

Bears Signaling Improvement From Chase Claypool

It can be understandably concerning when a report emerges that a key playmaker has been disappointing or making his current team unhappy — especially when the team gave up a significant amount of draft capital to acquire that player in the first place. But as Gabriel mentioned in his article, the Bears have projected nothing but positive and encouraging things about Claypool when talking about him to the media.

“If you have listened closely to all the different pressers since Poles and [head coach Matt Eberflus] have been here, they let it be known when they have a problem with a player,” Gabriel wrote. “They don’t throw him under the bus, but they let it be known that they expect more. With Claypool, there has been none of that, just positives.”

The comments the Bears have made throughout the past several weeks have even directly contradicted what Silverman is reporting. He said there are concerns about his motivation and work ethic, but quarterback Justin Fields sang his praises in that regard during the first week of OTAs, noting his “work ethic” and “attitude change” and adding that he has “improved tremendously” from the end of the 2022 season to now.

Silverman also insinuated that Claypool is still having trouble learning and fitting into the offense, but Eberflus specifically said that he believes Claypool is more comfortable now and knows “the formations, the motions and knows the route disciplines” after putting in a full offseason of work into properly learning Luke Getsy’s system.

In other words, it’s up to you who you believe; You can take a radio co-host at his word that people inside the Bears organization are leaking their unhappiness with Claypool or you can choose to believe the former scout with four decades in the business and, you know, the head coach, general manager and quarterback who express the opposite.

Reports Aside, Claypool Must Rise to the Occasion

Regardless of what is true about the organization’s feelings toward Claypool, the 24-year-old has an opportunity to rise to the occasion as one of the Bears’ starting wide receivers during the 2023 season — and, frankly, it isn’t one that he can afford to let pass him by if he wants to get his NFL career back on the right trajectory.

Claypool is heading into the final year of his rookie contract in 2023 and will need to have a strong season if he wants the Bears to consider signing him to a new extension. The playmaking ability that he showcased over his first two years in Pittsburgh was enough for Poles to make an aggressive trade to get him, but it will all be for naught if he is unable to take a meaningful step forward from the 14 catches and 140 yards that he produced over seven games in his first half-season with the Bears in 2022.

Fortunately, there is a sizable upside with Claypool. At 6-foot-4, he is at least three inches taller than every other receiver on the Bears’ roster with the exception of Equanimeous St. Brown (6-5) and knows how to use those physical gifts both to win against press coverage off the line of scrimmage and to go up and make contested grabs. His 238-pound frame also gives him a tight end-esque advantage when chipping in as a blocker, which is an essential part of Getsy’s outside zone blocking scheme.

If Claypool can get healthy and figure out how to put it all together on the field for the Bears once the season begins, he could end up being one of their most potent weapons.

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