Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

NFC Notes: Packers, Kizer, Rams, Donald, Redskins, Guice

Like most years, the success of the 2018 Packers will depend on the health of Aaron Rodgers. But unlike last year, who the Packers might turn to if Rodgers were to go down isn’t clear. The team was reportedly high on Brett Hundley, and was seen by most around the league as having some trade value before he was forced into action when Rodgers broke his collarbone last year. Hundley struggled mightily across nine starts, throwing for just nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a dismal 5.8 yards per attempt.

The Packers showed their dissatisfaction with Hundley by trading for DeShone Kizer this offseason. Now the once hot commodity finds himself in a battle just for his roster spot. The Packers’ upcoming three day minicamp is expected to be a big development in the battle for the backup quarterback spot, according to Michael Cohen of Packers News. Cohen notes that Hundley is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, and will have to show out this summer in order for the Packers to bring him back next year, especially with Kizer waiting in the wings.

With Rodgers expected to be excused from the minicamp, Cohen states that Hundley is “expected to take the majority of first-team reps” but that Kizer “will have ample opportunity to show his progress.” Whatever happens, it’ll be an interesting situation to keep an eye on as Kizer seeks to revive his career in Green Bay.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Cohen reports that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is expected to be in attendance for the mandatory minicamp. The 2014 first-rounder is heading into the final year of his rookie contract after the Packers exercised his fifth-year option last year. Clinton-Dix has missed all of OTAs for undisclosed reasons.
  • The Rams are uncertain whether or not Aaron Donald will show up for their mandatory minicamp, which starts tomorrow, according to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. Donald is angling for a contract extension that will make him the league’s highest paid defensive player as he enters the last year of his rookie deal. Donald held out of all of training camp and ended up missing the first game of the season last year due to unhappiness with his contract, although he did show up to minicamp last year to avoid being fined.
  • The Redskins coaching staff “loves what they’ve seen” from Derrius Guice this offseason, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer says “murky rumors” are the only reason Guice fell to the Redskins in the second round of this year’s draft, and that the Redskins think they got a great value. The Redskins have a crowded running back room, but Breer thinks Guice “should be a factor” in his rookie season.

Latest On Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has yet to show for OTAs, but his absence is apparently not related to his contract. Clinton-Dix has been away from the team due to personal reasons, Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin reports (on Twitter), and he will be with the team during the mandatory minicamp. 

At first, it seemed that Clinton-Dix might have been angling for a better deal. The 2016 Pro Bowler is entering his walk year and is slated to earn $5.96MM. After playing out the fifth-year option season, he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Clinton-Dix has yet to miss a game in his four-year career, and has started every game in each of the last three seasons. He enjoyed his best season in 2016, when he earned Second Team All-Pro honors after snagging a team-best five interceptions. Though he logged three picks in 2017, the Packers also allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns and ranked in the bottom ten in passing yards allowed.

Last year, Clinton-Dix graded out as the No. 40 ranked safety in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. His 79.1 overall score put him ahead of notables such as George Iloka, Bradley McDougald, Malik Hooker, and Morgan Burnett. Though it was a decent year, the advanced metrics indicate that he had better efforts in 2015 and ’16.

Dix will return as the Packers’ starting free safety this year with 2017 second-round pick Josh Jones at strong safety. They’ll be flanked first-round cornerback Jaire Alexander and free agent addition Tramon Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clinton-Dix Skips Packers OTAs

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is skipping organized team activities, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes

The 2016 Pro Bowl selection has yet to comment on his absence, but Williams speculates he could be looking for an extension as he plays 2018 under his fifth-year option worth $5.96MM.

Clinton-Dix has yet to miss a game in his four-year career, and has started every game in each of the last three seasons. He enjoyed his best season in 2016, when he earned Second Team All-Pro honors after snagging a team-best five interceptions. Though he logged three picks in 2017, the Packers also allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns and ranked in the bottom ten in passing yards allowed.

Green Bay isn’t letting the absence slow down their program. “It’s voluntary. So the guys that are here are the guys that we’re worried about,” defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt told Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Packers Pick Up Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s Option

The Packers have exercised Ha Ha Clinton-Dix‘s fifth-year option, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The news was expected. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (vertical)

In 2016, Clinton-Dix played in every defensive snap for the Packers and picked off five passes en route to his first career Pro Bowl selection. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 20th best safety in the NFL and he should only improve going forward.

The safety is now scheduled to earn $5.597MM in 2018, a sum that is guaranteed for injury only. In this upcoming season, he’ll be under contract at a super reasonable $2.653MM cap number. According to Over The Cap, there are 55 safeties in the NFL who will earn more than Clinton-Dix in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Hawks, Falcons, Pack, Saints

The Seahawks had been in danger of losing a second-round pick for failing to disclose cornerback Richard Sherman‘s “significant” MCL injury during the season, but the NFL decided Monday to let them off with a warning, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. The league concluded that the Seahawks merely misinterpreted its rules, per Garafolo. The news that Seattle is escaping punishment isn’t particularly surprising, as one of Garafolo’s NFL.com colleagues, Ian Rapoport, reported earlier this month that Seattle wasn’t going to face serious discipline for its violation.

More from Seattle and a few other NFL cities:

  • The Falcons have hired Bush Hamdan as their quarterbacks coach, reports Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). The younger brother of former NFL quarterback Gibran Hamdan, Bush Hamdan spent the previous two seasons as the University of Washington’s wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. He’s taking over in Atlanta for Matt LaFleur, now the Rams’ offensive coordinator. In doing so, Hamdan will reunite with head coach Dan Quinn, notes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), as the two worked together at the University of Florida in 2012.
  • The Packers have a decision to make on pending free agent defensive back Micah Hyde, who could seek $4MM-plus per year on his next contract, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Hyde, who’s coming off an 11-start, three-interception season, has been with the Packers since they selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. If Hyde moves on, Green Bay could turn to Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans, Demovsky suggests. Elsewhere in the secondary, the team will either extend safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or exercise his fifth-year option for 2018, as Demovsky opines that the Pro Bowler could be general manager Ted Thompson‘s best first-round pick since he chose Aaron Rodgers in 2005. Clinton-Dix made a strong case for that honor as a third-year pro in 2016, when he played every defensive snap for the Packers and picked off five passes.
  • Newly signed Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh‘s single-year contract is worth $1.1MM and includes no guaranteed money, per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Walsh stands to earn an $800K salary and could make another $300K in bonuses. The Seahawks are likely to bring in another kicker to compete against Walsh for the job this summer. Odds are that won’t be soon-to-be free agent Steven Hauschka, observes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, considering the five-year Seahawk will likely be out of their price range.
  • Continuing a Seahawks-heavy set of notes, defensive end Cliff Avril tweeted that he underwent successful surgery Tuesday. Avril didn’t specify which type of surgery he underwent, though Condotta points out that the physician who performed the procedure – Dr. William C. Meyers – specializes in core and sports hernia operations. Regardless, Avril should be fine for 2017 and will attempt to build on his first Pro Bowl season – an 11.5-sack, five-forced fumble campaign.
  • Fullback John Kuhn‘s one-year pact with the Saints is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $1.08MM, tweets Nick Underhill of The Advocate. Kuhn will earn a $1MM salary and count $695K against New Orleans’ cap in 2017.

Extra Points: Brady, Cowboys, Oliver

Even after the Patriots‘ 43-17 throttling of the previously undefeated Bengals, stories persist of the ongoing tensions between Tom Brady and the team. Kirk Minihane and Gary Tanguay joined Arbella Early Edition to discuss the chances that the recent rift will lead to a split.

They came to a surprising conclusion, both figuring that there is a more likely than not chance that Brady could finish his career with another franchise. They can see the team considering trading him if the right offer came along.

“If I’m Belichick I say… ‘Tom, thanks for the memories, swell, here’s the watch, goodbye,’” says Minihane. “You’d be insane not to do it. They’re going to at least explore trading Brady in this offseason. I’m convinced of that.”

Here are some other notes from around the NFL:

  • The Cowboys are 4-1, and most of the credit has gone to the offensive line, but not forgotten are the team’s two stars, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. Both players will be free agents at season’s end, but the team is not worried about getting extensions signed during the season, writes Jon Machota of DallasNews.com. The team has already targeted both players as pieces moving forward, making their pursuits known.
  • Chargers‘ running back Branden Oliver had a breakout game Sunday against the Jets, racking up 182 yards and two touchdowns rushing and receiving. The electric rookie went undrafted, and considered signing with the Colts before joining the Chargers, reports Alex Marvez of Fox Sports 1 (via Twitter).
  • Finally, Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spent some time with Packers‘ first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Dunne got to know a lot about the future star safety and his life off-the-field.

Extra Points: Burnett, Long, Adams

ESPN’s staff put together a list of each team’s starter whose job is in jeopardy. Among the most notable are 49ers running back Frank Gore, Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and Packers safety Morgan Burnett. On Burnett, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky says, “When the Packers drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, the thinking was that he would start alongside Burnett. Now, there’s a chance he could start instead of Burnett. Coach Mike McCarthy likes what Micah Hyde has done at free safety, and when Burnett strained his oblique muscle this week, he put Clinton-Dix in Burnett’s strong safety spot. The Packers made a major investment in Burnett last summer with an $8.25 million signing bonus as part of a four-year extension, but he followed it with an unproductive season.”

Here’s a few miscellaneous links from around the league:

  • Panthers veteran linebacker Chase Blackburn is on that list, as second-year man A.J. Klein is pushing for the starting job, but Blackburn is embracing his role as mentor, writes Scott Fowler in the Charlotte Observer.
  • With the Eagles in Chicago to play the Bears tonight, Zach Berman of Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the relationship between Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who helped Long get his career back on track during their time together at Oregon.
  • The Steelers were hoping 2012 second-rounder Mike Adams would challenge for a starting tackle job, but that’s not happening, writes ESPN’s Scott Brown. Adams has been inconsistent, and “It would be charitable to put Adams among the Steelers’ best seven offensive linemen through the first 11 practices,” according to Brown. Adams started 10-of-15 games played last season, but struggled and “earned” a -4.9 overall rating from Pro Football Focus.
  • Cowboys rookie safety Ahmad Dixon’s ‘Welcome to the NFL’ hit left him with a concussion, reports Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.
  • The Seahawks’ secondary has established itself as the “Legion of Boom.” The Buccaneers are trying to establish the offensive equivalent, with the trio of Vincent Jackson, first-rounder Mike Evans and second-rounder Austin Seferian-Jenkins going by the “Three Dunkateers,” writes USA Today’s Jim Corbett.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Packers Agree To Terms

The Packers have reached an agreement with first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on his rookie contract, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). The 21st overall pick in the 2014 draft, Clinton-Dix becomes the 12th first-rounder to either sign or agree to terms with his new NFL club.

Clinton-Dix, 21, was the second safety to come off the board in this month’s draft, after Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. An Alabama product, Clinton-Dix racked up 88 tackles and seven interceptions in his final two years at Alabama before deciding to forgo his senior year and enter the 2014 draft.

By locking up Clinton-Dix, the Packers have now secured seven of their nine draftees, with just second-round receiver Davante Adams and third-round tight end Richard Rodgers still unsigned. According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, Clinton-Dix is in line for a signing bonus of about $4.384MM, while his overall four-year total will be approximately $8.338MM. The deal will also include a fifth-year team option for 2018.

Packers Notes: Lyerla, Adams, Clinton-Dix

The Packers are leaning toward signing former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports.

Lyerla, in Green Bay at rookie orientation camp on a tryout basis after going undrafted, can be argued as the most talented rookie at his position. He stands 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, and he ran 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. But, Lyerla left the Ducks program his junior season and was subsequently arrested for cocaine possession and feeling from the police.

“We did a lot of work on Colt,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “He’s a very talented athlete. We interviewed him at the combine. We went through all those procedures, talked to a lot of people. He’s a young man that made some mistakes, and we feel like he was worth bringing in and taking a look at.” 

Without Jermichael Finley in the fold, the tight end position in Green Bay is relatively thin. Fifth-year pro Andrew Quarless was re-signed this offseason and figures to be the team’s opening-day starter, and the team used a third-round pick at the position on Cal product Richard Rogers.

More news and notes from Titletown…

  • Wide receiver Davante Adams, the Packers’ second-round pick from Fresno State, is one of three rookies leading a youth infusion at the position, Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette writes. Green Bay added two more receivers on the third day of the draft with Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis (fifth found) and Saginaw Valley’s Jeff Janis (seventh round).
  • In a video posted on packersnews.com, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said he is honored and happy to be wearing No. 21, which was recently occupied by Charles Woodson, now with the Raiders.
  • The Packers drafted for defense with four of their nine picks, and Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said those rookies have a good chance to earn playing time on a unit that’s been struggling as of late.
  • Despite a contract that is set to expire after the 2016 draft, Thompson — in his 10th year as GM of the Pack — said he’s just getting started and can’t anticipate himself doing anything different, writes Dunne.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Houston, Packers, Vikings

Following one of the worst defensive seasons in team history, the Bears’ scheme under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will “undergo significant alterations in 2014,” says ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “There are some significant changes in terms of techniques that we’re going to play; how we’re going to fit the run, some of our alignments,” Tucker said. “We’ll have some alternative fronts that we’ll play. I’m not sure how much of a difference you’ll see during the OTAs and things like that because we’re going to work to lay the foundation on our base principles and techniques, which will allow us to do pretty much anything we want down the road.” Wright also mentions that the team plans to cross train all of the defensive linemen in an effort to achieve better flexibility and versatility.

In other NFC North notes. . .

  • Lions veteran cornerback Chris Houston had toe surgery earlier this week, and the team is uncertain if he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, writes Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Packers drafted four defensive rookies. Of the group, first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and third-round defensive lineman Khyri Thornton are expected to contribute as rookies. “There’s a reasonable chance Clinton-Dix will be plugged in as a starter on Day 1 of training camp,” says Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Thornton, while raw, was taken in the third round for a reason. Green Bay envisions him adding rotational juice to the defensive line.”
  • Because of an NFL rule, Vikings rookies Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton and David Yankey can’t join the team full-time until next month, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The players’ schools — UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford, respectively — are on quarters instead of semesters, and the players are required to return to school until the term ends in June.
  • Meanwhile, the Vikings envision third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, an option quarterback at Georgia Southern, as the type of complimentary, all-purpose back that has thrived in so many of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s units, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling.