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Kingerski: Time for Steelers to Get Real, Trade Chase Claypool



Former Steelers WR Chase Claypool

Tell me again why the Pittsburgh Steelers must not trade Chase Claypool.

Are they hoping Claypool is the missing ingredient for an impending Super Bowl run? Are they sure the 6-foot-4 third-year receiver from Notre Dame is a top-flight No. 1 receiver they cannot replace? I’m searching for answers, and the best I can come up with is: It’s the NFL. Teams don’t like trades.

It’s time for the Steelers and GM Omar Khan to get real. Take a good hard look at their status, their 2-5 record, and how far away they are from being a very good team.

The Carolina Panthers secured a second, third, fourth, and fifth-round draft pick from the San Francisco 49ers for RB Christian McCaffrey. Colleague Alan Saunders confirmed the Green Bay Packers were extremely interested in Claypool, but the Steelers’ trade ask is similar to McCaffrey’s price.

Of course, the Steelers won’t get it.

Taller, athletic wide receivers are not the rare and valuable commodity they once were. Further, until Claypool establishes that he can get open on every play, that he’s a strong outside receiver (or a big slot receiver), and a consistent big-play threat, he’s not worth that haul of draft picks.

But he is worth quite a bit.

The Steelers have many problems. And they are great.

Are the Steelers afraid they might lose more games without him? Just wait until the Philadelphia Eagles get done with them. The Steelers fought, scrapped, and found a way to upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6, but with each passing day, that looks less like an upset and more like Tampa Bay has a QB who doesn’t have his head (or heart) in the game.

Claypool, 24, is on pace for 68 catches, 646 yards and is averaging 9.5 yards per catch.

The Steelers are on pace for five wins. Maybe.

Wouldn’t a few draft picks help with the mediocre offensive line? The aging defensive line? The crumbling secondary? The absent middle linebackers?

In fairness, Devin Bush had one of his best games in the Steelers’ 16-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night. But he’s no All-Pro.

So, the Steelers have a decent rookie QB, a few solid wide receivers, George Pickens could be a very good WR, a couple of competent tight ends, a dominant but fragile OLB, and a very, very good free safety.

It’s time for the Steelers to come to grips with reality. They’re far away from the top of the league and drifting further. The one, and perhaps only, position that coach Mike Tomlin has been able to draft successfully is WR. Claypool was a second-rounder.

Take the picks. Accept the screaming truth. And get on with rebuilding.

Even the 1970s Steelers had to stink for a few years (or 40). Even the 1994-98 Steelers had to stink for a few years. Even the 2005, 2008, and 2010 Steelers had to go through a lean year or two leading up to their multi-peak ascension.

This Steelers era is different because these recent lean years have not yielded hope. Instead, the Steelers are gliding down the path of irrelevance, clinging to silly denials like, “Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season.”

That and $5 bucks will get you a latte.

The Steelers’ patchwork roster burst at the seams when Ben Roethlisberger could no longer overcome his team’s deficiencies or his age. The Steelers ship has been sailing this course for several years.

They are what their record says they are. Actually, they may be worse than their record says.

And I’ve got a few more names who won’t be at their peak in a few years and whose trade could accelerate the Steelers’ rebuild around Kenny Pickett.

And it’s time to accept that patchworking the roster just won’t work anymore. For starters, trade Chase Claypool.

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