The NFL trade deadline is just weeks away, with Christian McCaffrey, Cam Akers, Melvin Gordon, Roquan Smith, William Jackson and Mike Gesicki all viewed as potential trade candidates. Another name to monitor is Steelers receiver Chase Claypool, who broke out for 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2020 but has struggled since, recently snapping what had been a five-game touchdown drought in Sunday’s upset of Tampa Bay. Big-bodied at 6’4,” 238 pounds, the 24-year-old Canadian is said to be “available” with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noting he could be of interest to the Packers, who have dropped to 3-3 following recent losses to the Jets and Giants.
Not a deep unit to begin with, Green Bay’s receiving corps got even thinner this offseason with the departures of Davante Adams (traded to Las Vegas) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (signed with Kansas City), leaving undrafted 26-year-old Allen Lazard as Aaron Rodgers’ de facto No. 1 receiver. The market isn’t exactly flush with receivers right now, but of the ones available, Claypool, given his age and skill level, would arguably make the most sense, though he could command a “hefty price,” according to Fowler. Another potential option would be free agent Odell Beckham Jr., though he’s still rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in last year’s Super Bowl and may not be ready for another month.
Surrounding Rodgers with subpar weapons would seemingly defeat the purpose of signing him to a record contract, though the Packers must have their reasons. In the absence of explosive field-stretchers (of the two receivers they drafted, fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs has shown the most promise), Green Bay has relied heavily on its backfield tandem of A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones, reducing Rodgers to a facilitator role. Maybe the Packers, six weeks in, are still finding their sea legs with better days to come. Still, it’s hard to see them competing for a high playoff seed, much less a Lombardi Trophy, with Lazard and Randall Cobb as their top receivers.
Though his three years in Pittsburgh have been a rollercoaster, Claypool’s feast-or-famine existence, alternating between brilliant and frustratingly futile performances, has largely been a product of poor quarterback play, with Green Bay and Rodgers representing a sizable upgrade in that regard. While there’s no urgency to trade Claypool, who still has two years remaining on his rookie contract, the rebuilding Steelers may view him as expendable after recently spending a second-round pick on Georgia standout George Pickens. Fowler’s reporting is largely speculative, with no guarantee Claypool will be dealt to Green Bay, or anywhere else, for that matter. But in terms of fit, the Cheeseheads could certainly do a lot worse than Claypool.