Connect with us


Saunders: Claypool Trade Should Send a Message to Steelers




PITTSBURGH — When asked about big-picture changes to the Steelers earlier this season, Mike Tomlin said that he “wasn’t going to shoot a hostage.” What Tomlin was talking about was making change for change’s sake in order to shake up the situation and try to get a different result.

“I don’t intend to change the sake of changing, to shoot a hostage if you will, or anything of that nature,” Tomlin said on Oct. 11. “If changes produce better outcomes, or seemingly produce better outcomes, or we feel like it puts us in a position to produce better outcomes, then I’m open to it, certainly.”

Tomlin said on Wednesday that the Steelers traded wide receiver Chase Claypool because they valued the draft capital offered in return and feel comfortable about their depth at wide receiver, particularly the play of Steven Sims out of the slot.

But trading one of the team’s best offensive players and more popular players in the locker room should certainly have a secondary impact. It’s not quite shooting a hostage, but should be delivering a message nonetheless. 

Tomlin is not the type of coach that is going to make life miserable for his players, even when things are going poorly. But in trading a starter for a draft pick, something the Steelers haven’t done in a very long time, he’s making it clear that if play doesn’t improve, there could be more departures.

“Well, yeah, I was for sure (surprised),” wide receiver Diontae Johnson said. “I saw something on Instagram, a rumor saying he was going to the Packers. I thought he might go there, but then boom, that’s when the trade  to Chicago came up. I’m happy for him. I wish him nothing but the best. We just have to keep going.”

“It was a little surprising,” guard Kevin Dotson said. “But it’s part of the game. Nobody is promised to stay on a team. Anybody could’ve gotten traded.”

Over the years, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been a pretty good deal for most guys. While there have been some exceptions like Melvin Ingram in 2021, most players seem to enjoy their time in Pittsburgh and playing for Tomlin.

Almost every player that comes in from another organization talks about how much they admired the Steelers and the way they do things from afar.

Claypool wasn’t singled out for being shipped out of town because of something he did or said. The notion that he was a distraction in the locker room, reported on Tuesday by CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, was flatly rejected by many with the team.

It wasn’t anything Claypool did or said that led to him exiting Pittsburgh. It’s just that the Steelers are 2-6 and Claypool was sought after enough to bring in significant draft capital that can help the team in the future.

If players want to stay in Pittsburgh — and most of them do — then the team needs to play better, or there are going to more guys than Claypool that will lose their jobs here. That wasn’t the goal of the trade — at least if you want to take Tomlin’s word for it — but there’s no question that’s going to be one of the impacts of it.

Steelers Now in Your Mailbox!

Enter your email address to get notifications of new posts in your mailbox.

Steelers Now in your Inbox

Sign up and get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox!

Thank you!