Riders would ‘love’ chance to talk with Canadian receiver Chase Claypool after adding him to negotiation list

Courtesy: AP Photo/Doug Murray

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are willing to play the negotiation list waiting game with Canadian receiver Chase Claypool.

Officially, the Riders put him on the team’s exclusive 45-man list on Tuesday, April 2 as the ultra-athletic 25-year-old remains an NFL free agent.

“We haven’t had any discussions with Claypool or his representation; it’s purely to hold his rights. If there’s any chance that he ever wants to come back and play in Canada, we wanted to have his rights,” O’Day said live on the SportsCage at Mosaic Stadium.

“Guys move on and off the negotiation list left and right, we do it every single day. Obviously, he’s a big name. Just put him on and if there’s ever a chance that we can get a chance to talk to him, we’d love to.”

Claypool put on a phenomenal performance at the 2020 NFL combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at six-foot-four and 238 pounds. He recorded a 40.5-inch vertical leap, a 10-foot, six-inch broad jump and 19 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

In 58 career NFL games, Claypool has recorded 175 receptions for 2,261 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has rushed 33 times for 171 yards and two scores while connecting on one passing touchdown. During his professional career to date, the Abbotsford, B.C. native has earned over $8 million USD.

“We were actually thinking about putting him on for a couple weeks. It’s a matter of if a player’s a free agent for a while. I know that a team [the B.C. Lions] actually had him on right after our draft years ago,” O’Day said.

“It’s not very much different than what we would do with an American player that’s been in the NFL for a number of years. Eventually, maybe you think that they might consider coming up to Canada.”

Claypool exploded as a rookie after being selected in the second round, 49th overall during the 2020 NFL Draft by Pittsburgh. He caught 62 passes for 873 yards with nine touchdowns and scored two more along the ground, becoming the fourth receiver in NFL history to score 10 touchdowns in his first 10 career games.

The big target scored the longest NFL scrimmage touchdown ever by a Canadian player and became the first NFL rookie to score four touchdowns in a single game. His production remained steady in 2021 as he made 59 receptions for 860 yards and two touchdowns while carrying the ball 13 times for 96 yards.

The Steelers traded him to Chicago in exchange for a second-round pick partway through the 2022 season. He dressed for seven games with the Bears, catching 14 passes for 140 yards but was traded again in 2023 to Miami for a sixth-round pick. With the Dolphins, he caught four passes for 26 yards and became a free agent in March.

“Sometimes we’ve had guys that said they’re not going to come up to Canada and then a year later they sign with another team. It’s a timing thing… [the spots are] very important and you never know what can come out of it,” O’Day said.

“A lot of it is a matter of getting lucky and trying to predict, sometimes there’s no right or wrong. Sometimes guys come up to our league and they’ve been on four different negotiation lists prior to it. It’s all a matter of timing, to be honest with you. Sometimes you put him on at the right time and three other teams would’ve loved to have him but they took him off and now he’s at the point he’ll consider.”

Claypool visited the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday, April 10.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.