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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mark Potash

Bears cut to the Chase — Claypool traded to Dolphins

Chase Claypool was traded Friday. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The football diva is not always a team-killer. Some players not only thrive on that persona, but depend on it. It’s fuel for their massive ego. 

It’s the finest of lines, but some of those ego-driven players wear it well. Guys like Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson and — back in the day — Deion Sanders wouldn’t have been the same player if they had Darnell Mooney’s disposition. Being “The Beast” or “Ocho Cinco” or “Neon Deion” made them the players they were. 

But there’s one rule about being a diva that is universal to all sports: You have to produce. You have to earn the right to be the star, to throw the sideline fit, to trash talk, to call out the coaches, to make yourself the victim, to dog it every now and then, to be coddled and to get away with making it all about you. You have to be worth the trouble. 

Chase Claypool was not. The former Notre Dame star broke the biggest rule of diva-dom — he didn’t produce. He’s just another talented player who needs a lot of things in place for him to succeed — the right quarterback, the right system, the right role. True divas just go out there, get open and catch the damn ball. 

That’s why Claypool is no longer a Bear — traded to the Dolphins on Friday with a 2025 seventh round draft pick for a 2025 sixth-round pick. He wasn’t worth the trouble. Not even close. The real divas are probably miffed at a guy like Claypool. He gives them a bad name. 

But it’s the Bears who have to be the most disappointed in Claypool, because he made a lot of people at Halas Hall look bad — from general manager Ryan Poles to coach Matt Eberflus to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. 

The allure of Claypool goaded Poles into breaking his own vow of patience in building the Bears roster. “I’m not going to overreach and do things crazy to get a name or anything,” Poles said at the start of the 2022 season, when asked about acquiring weapons for quarterback Justin Fields. 

Eight weeks later, Poles traded a second-round draft pick to the Steelers for Claypool. It was bad enough that the pick ended up being the first pick of the second round (No. 32 overall). But Claypool’s failure reflected even more poorly on Poles, a second-year GM who hopefully has learned from a rookie mistake.

Poles received a poor return for Claypool— a likely modest bump of 10-12 picks late in the 2025 draft. But, in retrospect, it also looks like the desperation Poles was trying to avoid clouded a bit of logic — there’s usually a reason why Mike Tomlin lets go of a talented player. That’s hardly a fireable offense, but a stain on Poles’ ledger that will loom larger if this thing doesn’t get turned around.

And just three weeks ago, Tolbert, relying on previous experience with diva wide receivers — or as he called it, “guys with his demeanor” — was confident he had figured him out.

“Everybody has a button to be pushed a different way. His button is different from everybody else’s,” Tolbert said during Week 2. “It’s my job to find that button. I think I found it. I met with him extra. He’s come in early. He’s been the first receiver in the meeting rooms all week. He’s the most hustled receiver on the practice field the past two days.” 

Two weeks later, Claypool was ostensibly suspended from the team, then traded for a virtual lottery ticket. Rarely if ever has a player gone from the solution to the problem so quickly. At least Brandon Marshall gave the Bears 279 receptions, 3,524 yards, 31 touchdowns and some memorable moments before he wore out his welcome in 2015. All the Bears got out of Chase Claypool was a painful lesson for general manager learning on the job. 

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