Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Panthers To Work Out Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will try out for the Panthers during their minicamp this week (Twitter link via PFT). The veteran safety missed all of 2020, but he could be an interesting addition to Carolina’s secondary.

Clinton-Dix is best known for his time with the Packers. The 2014 first-round pick earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2016 with 80 tackles, five interceptions, and seven passes defended. Midway through 2018, he was traded to Washington where he didn’t make a ton of noise in his nine starts. In 2019, he joined up with the Bears, starting in all 16 games and notching 78 tackles with two interceptions.

Last year, was set to play for the Cowboys on a one-year, $3.75MM deal. However, after earning more than $2MM in guaranteed money, the safety missed the final cut. Since then, Clinton-Dix has been working out on his own and waiting for his next opportunity. His May audition for the Texans didn’t produce a contract, but this week’s workout with the Panthers could be his ticket back to the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Auditioning For Texans

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is auditioning for the Texans. The veteran defensive back will join Houston on a tryout basis for their upcoming minicamp, reports Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

The 2014 first-round pick spent the first four-plus seasons of his career with the Packers, including a 2016 campaign where he earned a Pro Bowl nod and second-team All-Pro recognition after finishing with 80 tackles, five interceptions, and seven passes defended. He was traded to Washington midway through the 2018 campaign, and he started all 16 games for the Bears in 2019, finishing with 78 tackles and two interceptions.

Clinton-Dix signed a one-year, $3.75MM deal with the Cowboys last offseason, teaming him up with former coach Mike McCarthy. However, after earning more than $2MM in guaranteed money, the safety was released by the organization in early September. Clinton-Dix sat in free agency for the remainder of the season.

The Texans current grouping of safeties include Lonnie Johnson Jr., Justin Reid, Terrence Brooks, and Jonathan Owens. Clinton-Dix has the versatility to play both safety positions, so there’s a chance he makes the team as a backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: M. Jones, Seahawks, Clinton-Dix

It has been looking increasingly likely that the 49ers will draft Alabama passer Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter said just yesterday that Jones would be the Niners’ pick. But Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network isn’t as convinced. On a recent PFN Draft Insiders podcast (link), Pauline said he is hearing that whether San Francisco goes with Jones or one of Justin Fields or Trey Lance is a 50-50 proposition.

Of course, this time of year is notorious for false leaks and misinformation, but the Niners are at least doing their due diligence on Fields. The Ohio State QB will hold a second pro day, and 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch are expected to attend.

Now for a few more West-related items:

  • The 49ers have hosted DL Ronald Blair on a visit, as ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. Blair, whom the Niners selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, was a useful piece of the team’s pass rush rotation during his first few years in the league, but he suffered a torn ACL in November 2019, and it was later revealed that the ensuing surgery was not successful. Though he re-upped with San Francisco on a one-year deal last March, he did not play in a single game in 2020.
  • Cornerback Quinton Dunbar recently signed with the Lions, but the Seahawks wanted to retain him, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Seattle has lost both Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin in free agency, and though the club did bring Ahkello Witherspoon aboard, CB is still an area of need.
  • The Seahawks continue to seek offensive line depth. According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Seattle visited with guard Cody Wichmann today (Twitter link). Wichmann, a sixth-round pick of the Rams in 2015, has managed to land a couple of reserve/futures contracts and a spot on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2018, but he hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2016. He has 18 career starts to his credit.
  • After the first few weeks of the new league year, the Raiders still have a glaring need at safety, but they don’t seem too worried about it. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the only FA safety Vegas was in on early was Rayshawn Jenkins, who inked a four-year, $35MM deal with the Jaguars. Players like Kenny Vaccaro, Duron Harmon, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix remain available, and the Raiders actually had Clinton-Dix in for a visit in March. Tafur suggests that the 28-year-old may have an offer in hand from Vegas and could be waiting for the market to pick back up before agreeing to a deal.

Raiders Host Ha Ha Clinton-Dix On Visit

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix did not play last season; the Cowboys released him prior to Week 1. But the former first-round pick has drawn some interest this offseason.

The Raiders are hosting the veteran safety Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This comes shortly after they hosted cornerback A.J. Bouye, whom The Athletic’s Vic Tafur notes left Las Vegas without a contract agreement (Twitter link).

Prior to Clinton-Dix’s Cowboys agreement, he played for the Packers, Washington and the Bears. He has never missed a game due to injury and has started every game in which he has played since taking over as a Green Bay starter as a rookie in 2014. Clinton-Dix made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 19 overall safety in 2019.

Las Vegas has Johnathan Abram and ex-Cowboy Jeff Heath returning at safety, with Erik Harris on track for free agency. Despite Clinton-Dix’s extensive experience, he will only be 28 this coming season. Considering his 2020 absence, the former Alabama star would certainly be available at a low-cost rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Parks

The Giants are planning for Logan Ryan to help at cornerback and safety. Joe Judge confirmed Ryan will play multiple spots, and Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes the former Patriots and Titans cornerback is expected to work in a hybrid safety-slot corner capacity (subscription required). Ryan played just 22 snaps at safety — as opposed to 855 in the slot — last season, but late in his free agency stay he began to market himself as a safety. Ryan’s 113 tackles last year led all cornerbacks and would have ranked fifth among safeties. Giants DC Patrick Graham was with the Patriots during three of Ryan’s four New England seasons. Second-round pick Xavier McKinney was set to play this role, but the Alabama product suffered a broken foot. McKinney had surgery late last month and is expected to miss at least two months. But he may well return to team with Ryan later this season.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Shifting to another team’s safety situation, the Cowboys did not view Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as a starter, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Instead of keeping the seventh-year veteran around as a backup, Dallas cut baitDarian Thompson is expected to start alongside Xavier Woods, but Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie, Daryl Worley and rookie Reggie Robinson could see time there if necessary. The Cowboys could recoup $1MM if Clinton-Dix signs elsewhere via the offset language in his contract, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Players like Josh McCown, Johnathan Cyprien, Dion Jordan and Matt Moore accepted jobs on teams’ practice squads in recent days. But Jon Halapio did not want to play such a role. The veteran center declined a spot on the Giants‘ P-squad, Duggan tweets. The Giants brought Halapio back last week but cut him Saturday. Halapio, who worked out for the Texans last month, is healthy after suffering an Achilles tear in Week 17. Halapio began the past two seasons as the Giants’ first-string center; he started 15 games last season.
  • Aldon Smith collected a $100K bonus from the Cowboys, per Archer. That brings his total in 2020 roster bonuses to $440K. Smith, who has not played since the 2015 season, agreed to a $910K base salary that pays out just more than $40K in per-game roster bonuses. If Smith were to reach eight sacks, he would collect $500K, Archer adds. For 10 sacks, the former All-Pro would receive a $1MM bump. In the event of a less likely 14-sack season, that total rises to $2MM.
  • The Eagles placed Will Parks on IR on Sunday. The veteran safety suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out up to six weeks, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. This year, teams can activate players off IR after just three missed games. Though, Parks’ timetable may run into October. The Eagles signed the former Bronco in March.

Cowboys To Release Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The Cowboys are moving on from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix quickly. After signing the veteran safety to a one-year deal in March, Dallas will release him, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets.

Clinton-Dix signed for a guaranteed $2.5MM, so this move will tag the Cowboys with a bit of dead money. It will, however, free up $1.75MM in cap savings. While this marks the first release of Clinton-Dix’s career, the former first-round pick may well move to a fifth team before what would be his seventh NFL season.

Expected to be a starter alongside Xavier Woods, Clinton-Dix evidently did not justify the modest salary commitment. He signed a one-year deal with the Bears last year and started 16 games for their No. 4-ranked scoring defense. Now. Clinton-Dix joins Gerald McCoy as 2020 Cowboy signees jettisoned before the season’s outset.

While this could accelerate the Earl Thomas-to-Dallas hype, the Cowboys are said to be split on the All-Pro safety. Mike McCarthy, in particular, was not believed to be on board — as of late last month — with bringing in Thomas. But Jerry Jones has not ruled it out, and the owner/personnel czar certainly would have the final say. Indeed, NFL.com’s Jane Slater tweets this does not necessarily mean a Thomas signing is imminent.

The Cowboys have used Woods and Jeff Heath as their safety starters over the past two years, doing so amid constant rumors about upgrades to the position. Their most notable effort came when they offered a second-round pick for Thomas in 2018. After Heath’s defection to Las Vegas, Dallas signed Clinton-Dix. The Cowboys have former Giants draftee Darian Thompson, 2019 sixth-round pick Donovan Wilson and rookie UDFA hopeful Luther Kirk in their safety stable currently.

A former Packers draftee, Clinton-Dix has started 90 career games and made the Pro Bowl in 2016. Pro Football Focus graded him as its No. 19 overall safety last season. Green Bay traded Clinton-Dix to Washington at the 2018 deadline, and he signed with Chicago the following March. He will likely head to another city for work soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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: