The Steelers’ free agency swoon has people all over Pittsburgh scratching their heads and crying like a bird. What are those crafty Steelers thinking ?!
Now supposedly promising Steelers catcher Chase Claypool goes and kicks his team while down by getting involved in an ugly bar fight in California, with damning video to start.
Yeah yeah Claypool fans – I realize there may be extenuating circumstances here, and there will surely be more context to the story. But it is precisely the wrong image at the exact moment for these Steelers. Budding NFL stars like Claypool have to realize that they are under a microscope at all times, especially in a bar equipped with video monitors. In fact, wherever you are in public, you better smile because you are most likely in front of the camera.
Claypool is not smiling now. And neither do the Steelers.
Wasn’t it bad enough that free agency already scowled at a lot of Steelers fans?
The stumbles of your favorite soccer team there are reminiscent of the classic Rolling Stones rocker, “You can’t always get what you want,” except the other way around. Rather than get what the team needs, the Steelers are indulging reckless fans with their (even wasteful) wishes.
Unusually, the Steelers rewarded good-hearted fans by rehiring their ever-smiling catcher and social media savvy, JuJu Smith-Schuster. With that, the JuJu lovers got what they wanted.
Unfortunately, the Steelers didn’t get what the team needed, at least by the standards of any clear-minded fan who cares about defense and little things like winning.
This criticism crystallizes with the firing of starting cornerback Steven Nelson.
Smith-Schuster returns to a reception room of absolute abundance. Plus, the Steelers are ridiculously good at selecting and developing young talent to catch passes. The most recent example of this is ex-Fighting Irish – now just fighting – wide receiver Chase Claypool. More on his inopportune punches in the classroom in a second.
In a simultaneous blow to the Steelers’ no-genius, the team told their starting cornerback to either find a trade or go for a walk. Somehow, Steven Nelson’s services in an increasingly thin high school were inexplicably no longer needed. Worst of all, the Steelers are terribly terrible when it comes to picking cornerbacks.
Artie Burns, anyone? (I do not believe it.)
It was a money move, the Steelers will tell you. Maybe.
But it was bad football.
Cue all the consternation at Steelers Nation. Pittsburgh is rightly stumped. Is it just a bad month? Or does it herald a pathetically poor pigskin season to come?
Caustic Steel City sports analysts aren’t holding back or beating around the bush. Some have been devastating in their criticism of the Steelers’ seemingly absurd free agency moves. And all of this was before Chase Claypool was caught on video apparently trying to kick a guy’s leg on the ground. Oh boy!
I give you all the throwback of River City in this controversial edition of the Steelers Update Podcast.
NOTE: New Steelers Update episodes are available every Wednesday afternoon on PennLive.com and wherever podcasts are found, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts.
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The latest news adding to the Steelers’ misery comes from the celebrity scandal-fueled TMZ website, where video of wide receiver Chase Claypool kicking a guy on the ground is plastered all over the place.
Live look from Pittsburgh:
This stupid move by a Promising Steeler is the only thing that makes JuJu’s resignation from the Steelers look a little better, or at least a little less stupid, in comparison.
Also, Claypool’s boxing showed that JuJu being rudely slapped with the harsh realities of free agency was nothing more than a touch of love. The veteran Steelers wide receiver with a penchant for self-promotion surely missed the huge offers his huge ego was expecting. But at least his return to lead a receiving room that still looks somewhat immature in light of Chase’s bar fight now makes some sense for the Steelers.
How’s it going:
Featuring his veteran Steelers “mature” receiver as he acknowledges his warm welcome to lead the team’s pool of talented young pass receivers. I’m sure we don’t have anything to worry about right now, right?
All you want to do is dance. Pittsburgh’s great pasts, not so much:
But did JuJu really pick the Steelers over better offers? Or did the humble social media star crawl back to Pittsburgh after his soaring free agency hopes nearly collapsed?
At least someone is happy. Watch the Steelers GM live, I mean quarterback Ben Roethlisberger:
Smith-Schuster sure can’t be smiling at the dollars in his deal. Do you want to talk about a real receiving coin? Here you have:
JuJu money is two bits compared to Golladay’s Bitcoin. Is it a slap on JuJu’s smiling face? Maybe.
But it’s better than a kick to the face, right, Chase?
Before Claypool could even think of going on a PR approved apology tour, some jerks in Steel City were doing it for him. The young man must acknowledge his mistake, even if there are extenuating circumstances here.
Simply put, the former Fighting Irish catcher needs to know when to pick his battles. Preferably, it is on a soccer field, not inside a classroom, from now on.
The timing of the unfortunate incident couldn’t be worse for the humble Steelers. They are coming out of free agency with little depth and much greater needs.
At least there is this remote ray of hope: If next season does, in fact, implode, perhaps a franchise quarterback could rise from the ashes of Pittsburgh.
It has happened before:
Bottom line: It’s been another costly period of free agency, proving that free agency is never free for your Steelers. Instead, Pittsburgh is paying a heavy price, not in player salaries, but in all the gaps that populate like Swiss cheese on its 2021 roster.
Claypool’s ugly boxing just adds some image damage to Pittsburgh’s plethora of offseason football slurs.
John luciew is an award-winning PennLive reporter and Steelers season ticket holder for 25 years. His column and podcast are presented from the obsessively over-informed perspective of an avid Steelers fan. Check out their latest Steelers podcast every Wednesday afternoon wherever they are.