Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Cowboys To Sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is headed to Dallas. Early this morning, the safety’s agency announced that he has agreed to join the Cowboys. 

Clinton-Dix will receive a one-year, $4MM deal with $2.5MM guaranteed, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). The pact will reunite him with Mike McCarthy, his longtime coach in Green Bay.

Clinton-Dix, 27, started in every game for the Bears last year and finished out with 78 tackles and two interceptions. He wasn’t a top-tier defender like predecessor Adrian Amos, but he proved to be a solid value on his one-year, $3MM deal.

His Cowboys deal is similarly inexpensive and may also prove to be something of a bargain. Even if he doesn’t regain his Pro Bowl (2016) form, he’ll likely outperform Jeff Heath. Also, by taking a safety spot off the to-do list, the Cowboys will be able to focus on other areas in the third wave of free agency and the April draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

POLL: Who’s The Best Free Agent Safety?

As free agency inches closer, we’ll continue previewing the impending market. One of the most interesting comparisons surrounds the safety position.

Anthony Harris and Justin Simmons are the consensus top two options at the position, but determining which should is the best option for a team in need of a new safety is a more difficult proposition. Harris, has been an established and proven veteran, while Simmons jumped to the top of the pack this year.

Harris, at 28, has ranked among the league’s best safeties in his time with the Vikings. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), Harris ranked among the five best-graded safeties in both 2018 and 2019. Over the past two seasons, he’s nabbed 9 interceptions, recorded 17 passes defended, and 106 tackles.

While Simmons does not have the longevity and track record of Harris, the Bronco graded as the 2nd best safety this season, per PFF, receiving a 90.8 grade. Simmons recorded 4 interceptions, 15 passes defended, and 93 tackles this season alone, but never graded above 80.0 prior to this season.

Most compelling to his case, at just 26 years old, Simmons could be poised to be one of the best centerfielders in football, but will teams want to gamble on that over Harris’ proven track record?

There are a number of other solid options at safety including Jimmie Ward and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but neither combine the health history and top end recent performance of Harris and Simmons.

Which safety do you prefer? Let us know in the poll below.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Flowers

The Bears have made some splashy trades since Ryan Pace replaced Phil Emery as GM in 2015. Deals that brought Khalil Mack and Mitch Trubisky to Chicago required major assets to complete. Fourth-year starter Cody Whitehair and second-round tight end Adam Shaheen also forced the Bears to surrender multiple mid-round picks. In a detailed piece by The Athletic’s Adam Jahns (subscription required), Pace summarized his aggressiveness on these fronts.

I think if you sit on your hands and you say, ‘Oh, this player is definitely going to get to us,’ and he goes right before you and you had conviction on him — not just you but the scouts and the coaches – and you wait on it, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Pace said. “If you have a guy or a group of guys, be aggressive and make it happen.

I don’t want to undervalue any of these mid-round picks. We’ve shown a lot examples of us hitting on those players. But I know if we’re ever in a situation where, ‘Hey, we’re doing a little too much here,’ we can police ourselves on that. But as long as it’s a fair deal and we’re getting a player that we all have conviction on, then we’ll do it.”

As teams break for camp, here is more from the NFC North:

  • A knee injury Ha Ha Clinton-Dix suffered during Chicago’s offseason program resulted in the recently signed safety beginning his first Bears camp on the active/PUP list. The former Packers and Redskins defender has not missed a game since the 2014 season.
  • However, the Bears received good news on Trey Burton. The team’s second-year tight end starter has been cleared for camp work. The “Philly Special” quarterback underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason.
  • Although Alexander Mattison is the assumed next man up if Dalvin Cook again goes down with an injury, Mike Zimmer cautioned about anointing the third-round pick too soon. The sixth-year Vikings coach (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling) singled out third-year UDFA C.J. Ham as a player who stands to play more on passing downs, in front of Mattison, due to pass-protection skills. Backs often begin their NFL careers limited at this skill, so the 26-year-old Ham (31 touches in two seasons, when Latavius Murray played behind Cook) may function as a stopgap while Mattison is groomed.
  • The Lions‘ top offseason expense, Trey Flowers will not begin camp with the bulk of his teammates. The four-year Patriots pass rusher will start his first Lions camp on their active/PUP list. Flowers underwent shoulder surgery before signing with the Lions, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes the $18MM-per-year defensive end is expected to be ready by Week 1.

Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Bears To Sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The Bears are replacing the recently-departed Adrian Amos with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). It will be a one-year deal for Clinton-Dix, who comes back to the NFC North after a brief hiatus in Washington. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets that Clinton-Dix will earn $3.5MM in 2019.

We learned yesterday that Clinton-Dix would be meeting with Chicago, and that visit apparently well for both sides. Although he is not as physical as Amos, who signed with the division-rival Packers (Clinton-Dix’s original team), Clinton-Dix does offer arguably better coverage ability. His skill-set is somewhat similar to that of new teammate and fellow safety Eddie Jackson, but the Bears, who boast one of the best overall defenses in the league, should be able to make it work.

The Redskins picked up Clinton-Dix from the Packers at the 2018 trade deadline in exchange for a fourth-round pick. In nine games in the nation’s capital, Clinton-Dix posted 66 tackles, three passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. All told, Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 17 safety last season.

Washington wanted him back, but the prospect of suiting up for a more legitimate contender and for a better defensive unit was the deciding factor. Indeed, Garafolo says that Clinton-Dix turned down more money “elsewhere” to play for Chicago and to reunite with Jackson, his former teammate at Alabama (it is unclear whether the Redskins’ offer was higher than the Bears’ proposal, but at least one team was offering more than $3.5MM).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Host Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The Redskins want to re-sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but they’ll have to fight off another interested club. The Bears are scheduled to meet with the veteran safety, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Chicago has already experienced turnover in its secondary, replacing slot corner Bryce Callahan with Buster Skrine, and now the club needs to find someone to step in for Adrian Amos, who signed with the Packers on Tuesday. Currently, 2016 fourth-rounder Deon Bush is slated to start next to Eddie Jackson in the Bears’ defensive backfield.

The Redskins picked up Clinton-Dix from the Packers at the trade deadline in exchange for a fourth-round pick, but he didn’t move the needle much in Washington. In nine games in the nation’s capital, Clinton-Dix posted 66 tackles, three passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. All told, Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 17 safety in 2019.

Unlike the Redskins, the Bears can offer Clinton-Dix a more realistic chance at contention and the ability to join arguably the NFL’s best defense. Additionally, Washington has already made one large commitment at the safety position (Landon Collins), so it’s unclear how far it’s willing to go to retain Clinton-Dix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Want To Re-Sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Even after inking Landon Collins to a massive free agent deal, the Redskins would still like to re-sign fellow safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Collins and Clinton-Dix are both safeties, but they play two very different roles. Collins has historically been an in-the-box safety, spending most of his time closer to the line of scrimmage, while Clinton-Dix has worked in a center field-type role. There’s room for both in Washington’s defense, but teams don’t often spend significant money on two safeties.

Having said that, it’s unclear how much Clinton-Dix will cost. The free agent safety market was flooded with option, but many of those choices — including Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Lamarcus Joyner, and Adrian Amos — are now off the board. With many clubs having already taken care of their safety needs, Clinton-Dix’s market may be shrinking.

The Redskins picked up Clinton-Dix from the Packers at the trade deadline in exchange for a fourth-round pick, but he didn’t move the needle much in Washington. In nine games in the nation’s capital, Clinton-Dix posted 66 tackles, three passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. All told, Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 17 safety in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Hue, Browns, Pack, Vikes

A return to the Bengals could make sense for recently-fired Browns head coach Hue Jackson, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com indicates (Twitter link). Jackson is extremely close with Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis, and has previously worked in the Queen City on two occasions, first as wide receivers coach from 2004-06 and then in multiple roles (including offensive coordinator) from 2012-15. The Bengals still have to play the Browns twice this season, so adding Jackson with the intent of gaining intel on Cleveland wouldn’t be out of the question, but Cincinnati could be concerned about forcing incumbent play-caller Bill Lazor to look over his shoulder.

Jackson also gave an interview Thursday to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com in which he attempts to explain reports of “internal discord” between he and similarly fired Browns OC Todd Haley. The entire piece is well worth a full read, as Jackson expresses frustration at the prior state of Cleveland’s roster and the Browns passing on quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Carson Wentz in recent drafts.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams isn’t once to mince words, and he didn’t hold back Wednesday when asked about other opportunities he’s had in the NFL. “Since I left Buffalo, I had 11 letters to interview for head coaching jobs,” said Williams (Twitter link via Cabot). “Four of them didn’t even have to interview, just show up and sign the contract.” Williams gave no indication as to what clubs offered him a position, nor do most (if any) teams hand out head coaching gigs without at least a sit-down meeting. Williams, who is retaining his role as Cleveland’s defensive coordinator, also said he had no part in promoting Freddie Kitchens from running backs coach to interim offensive coordinator, according to Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • A.J. Green was in a walking boot following the Bengals‘ Week 8 win over the Buccaneers, and he’s still not “out of the woods,” tweets Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. It’s unclear exactly what issue is bothering Green, and initial reports suggested the boot was simply precautionary. But the injury has continued to swell, per Dehner, so Cincinnati is putting its star receiver through further tests. The Bengals are on a bye in Week 9 so Green has plenty of time to recover, but any absence would be a massive blow to Cincinnati’s offense as the club continues its push for a playoff spot.
  • The Packers traded both safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and running back Ty Montgomery following what were perceived as locker room issues, but Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst says neither deal was intended to send a message to Packers players, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. “I think you take everything into consideration when you make these kind of decisions, but performance comes first,” Gutekunst said. “That’s always the major factor in these decisions. Everything’s taken into account, but it’s never usually just one thing.” Clinton-Dix had indicated he didn’t expect to re-sign with Green Bay, while Montgomery reportedly went rogue by taking a late-game kickoff out of the end zone on Sunday.
  • Before signing with the Vikings‘ practice squad earlier this week, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo also had p-squad offers from the Giants and Packers, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Odenigbo, who also worked out for the Saints earlier this week, says he’ll now play only on the edge for Minnesota instead of dabbling at defensive tackle, and interestingly says that designation was actually part of his pact with the Vikings.

North Notes: Tate, Packers, Browns, Burns

The Lions are only one game out of the NFC North lead, but they nonetheless made the decision to trade their most productive wide receiver since Calvin Johnson to the Eagles. Golden Tate is now in Philadelphia, and some Lions staffers are “very surprised” about that transaction, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. This led Breer to wonder if there was a conflict between Tate and the Lions, and a team source informed him that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Eagles’ offer of a third-round pick for a player who was likely on his way out after 2018 was too good to pass up. Tate would have netted the Lions a compensatory pick had he left in free agency, but that selection would’ve come in the 2020 draft. Now, Detroit has an additional Day 2 pick in 2019. Tate’s departure, though, makes any Lions playoff hopes less likely.

Several of the North divisions’ teams made moves before the trade deadline. Here’s more fallout from some others, along with the latest from some other North franchises:

  • Ty Montgomery‘s fumble on Sunday in Los Angeles didn’t just prompt non-essential Packers to anonymously gripe about the mistake. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes respected veterans called out the since-traded running back/return man. That, coupled with Montgomery not accepting full responsibility for his mistake and publicly expressing trust issues with teammates, signaled the Packers had to move on from the former third-round pick, per Silverstein. Montgomery stands to finish out his contract year with the Ravens.
  • The Packers were not happy about the way Ha Ha Clinton-Dix‘s 2017 season ended, with Silverstein writing Green Bay brass believed the 2014 first-round pick avoided tackles in the season finale against the Lions. This helped influence the Packers’ decision to not enter contract talks with Clinton-Dix prior to the 2018 season. While this tactic isn’t uncommon for the Packers, who let established starters Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, Sam Shields and others play out their contract years before re-signing them, it led Clinton-Dix to believe he wasn’t going to be back next season. Hence, the trade to Washington. GM Brian Gutekunst, however, said (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky) these trades weren’t meant as a message for the locker room.
  • As far as replacing Clinton-Dix, the Packers have some interesting options. One NFC scout told Silverstein their best choice might be to move recently added cornerback Bashaud Breeland to safety and play him in tandem with Jermaine Whitehead. Kentrell Brice served as Clinton-Dix’s safety running mate this season. A four-year Redskins starter, Breeland has not played a snap for the Packers yet. Another option, as Demovsky details, would be to play 2017 second-rounder Josh Jones. He’s worked as a special-teamer thus far. Tramon Williams could be an option as well, so Green Bay is not lacking in possible solutions.
  • The Browns named former Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley as their running backs coach today. This is interesting on multiple levels. The 29-year-old now-coach’s highest level of experience came as a San Diego State graduate assistant. Lindley, though, played under new Browns OC Freddie Kitchens with the Cardinals when Kitchens was their QBs coach.
  • Artie Burns did not play a snap in the Steelers‘ win over the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin said he benched the former first-round cornerback because he was late for a walkthrough, but Burns said Wednesday (via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) he was back with the starters at practice. Coty Sensabaugh started in place of Burns in Week 8.

Packers Trade Ha Ha Clinton-Dix To Redskins

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been traded to the Redskins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). In return, Green Bay will receive a 2019 fourth-round pick, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The deal represents the latest blockbuster move on deadline day and the Packers’ second trade of the afternoon. 

Before the Clinton-Dix deal, the Packers traded running back Ty Montgomery to the Ravens for a future 2020 seventh-round pick. The Montgomery trade was likely tied to discord between the player and the coaching staff, but the Clinton-Dix trade has more to do with finances. The young safety is in his contract year and he recently acknowledged that he is unlikely to re-sign with the team after shopping the open market.

Right now, I’m playing each and every game like it’s my last. I don’t think I’m going to be here next year,” Clinton-Dix said earlier this month. “That’s how I look at it. I just (have to) be honest with myself. You’ve got to play it game-by-game. Whether we’re losing by 60 points, you’ve got to go out there and perform. This is my biggest interview of my career. So I’ve got to perform, regardless of what the record says.”

The 25-year-old (26 in December) was retained for 2018 via the fifth-year option which is paying him $5.957MM. He stayed away from voluntary OTAs in hopes of getting a long-term deal from the Packers, but that never came together.

In seven games this year (all starts), Clinton-Dix has three interceptions, one forced fumble, and a sack to his credit. On an individual level, the free safety is in the midst of a career year.

Clinton-Dix will join a safety group presently headlined by D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson. Rookie Troy Apke could have been on track for a larger role at some point this year, but he was recently placed on IR with a hamstring issue.

The Packers did not want to lose Clinton-Dix while only gaining some credit in the compensatory pick formula, but the deal unquestionably will cost them in the short term. At 3-3-1 in a closely contested division, it’s somewhat surprising to see the Packers in selling mode.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.