“This morning, we informed him that he’s not going to be here this week for the game as well, and we just feel that’s best for the team at this time,” Eberflus said.
Claypool was a healthy scratch for Chicago’s 31-28 loss to the Denver Broncos. The wide receiver was not at Soldier Field on Sunday and was told not to attend the game, according to a team spokesperson.
Eberflus declined to explain specifics about why the Bears feel it’s best for Claypool to be away from the team as Chicago prepares to play Washington on Thursday. Claypool was informed of the team’s decision Monday morning, according to Eberflus.
“It comes down to this. When you’re evaluating players in meetings, in practice, in walk-throughs, all those things, it’s important that you evaluate the entire body of work, right?” Eberflus said. “And we just feel that right now Chase is going to be out of the building, it’s best for our football team.”
On Sunday, Eberflus told reporters that it was Claypool’s choice whether to attend the game as an inactive player or stay home. During his weekly appearance on “Kap & J.Hood” on ESPN 1000 Monday morning, the coach said he wanted to “correct the record” and offered an explanation for why his information was different from the team’s.
“At the podium [Sunday], obviously after an emotional game, I was not clear on what transpired there,” Eberflus said. “We did ask Chase to stay home during that time. We felt it was in the best interest of the team. We always base our inactives based on meetings, based on practice, based on walk-throughs during the course of the week. And we made him inactive for that point.”
Eberflus said the team would “see where it goes” regarding the wide receiver’s future with the organization and whether he would be traded or released.
“[General manager] Ryan [Poles] does all the trades and transactions, and we’ll decide that as we go forward,” Eberflus said.
Claypool expressed frustration with his role in the Bears’ offense Friday. When asked whether he feels he has been put in the best position to showcase his skill set, the wide receiver paused for seven seconds before saying “No.”
Eberflus said after the game that Claypool’s comments did not factor into him being made inactive, which the team informed the receiver of over the phone Saturday. The Bears coach did not give specifics as to why Claypool was made inactive but pointed to the team’s “standard.”
“I came here, Day 1, I talked about being on time, being respectful and working hard,” Eberflus said. “That to me is important for every individual — if it’s a staff member, a player or a coach. That’s where we are. We feel right now this is the best decision for us.”
He then added: “We have a standard for that. We have standards for that. And if those standards are met, then everything’s good. If it’s not, then it’s not.”
Tight end Cole Kmet, who played college football with Claypool at Notre Dame, called the benching “unfortunate” and said he planned to reach out to the receiver Monday.
“Look, I’m just going to be there for him as a friend, you know what I mean?” Kmet said. “At the end of the day, we’re all adults here and everyone gets to make their own decisions and can say what they want to say on things and act how they want to act, whatever it may be. But as a friend, I’m always there for Chase, whether he’s here or somewhere else, wherever it is.”
Quarterback Justin Fields lauded Claypool as an offensive weapon and passionate player but said the receiver “has to work on his display of emotions,” something he said he has spoken to Claypool about previously.
When asked for his perspective on why things have devolved between the Bears and the wide receiver, Kmet pointed to Claypool’s frustrations amid the Bears’ 0-4 start.
“I go back to the losing,” Kmet said. “I think losing can be hard for guys to deal with. It’s been hard for me to manage, but you’ve got to find ways to get back to work, clear your mind, every day. It’s hard — look, I haven’t won a game in almost a year now, and trust me, I take it home with me and it hurts, man, it hurts. It’s hard to deal with it, but we’ve all got to be adults about it and be able to move on and be able to trust the process set.
“That can be hard to do sometimes when things aren’t going your way and maybe you’re not getting the targets you want, and you’re not winning, all those things kinda add up and you get frustrated, but you have to be a man about it, be an adult about it and be able to reset your mind each and every week and just look to improve yourself individually, each and every day.”
The Bears sent the No. 32 pick to Pittsburgh last November in exchange for Claypool, who is in the final year of his rookie contract. In the 10 games he has played in Chicago, Claypool has struggled to establish a high-volume role for himself, having caught 18 passes for 191 yards and one touchdown.