Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

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:

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.