The Chicago Bears have a big decision to make at safety this offseason, even after signing Eddie Jackson to the position's richest contract extension in NFL history.
Jackson's running-mate, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency in March and there's been no indication that the Bears plan to re-sign him before he has the chance to test the open market. He'll have plenty of suitors for his services, including an NFC North rival, according to NFL.com.
DETROIT LIONS: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety
This might seem like a bit of a reach for the Lions, but Detroit could use a splash signing in the secondary and has the cap space (projected $46 million) to get it done. Clinton-Dix has plenty of experience in the NFC North, having played for Green Bay and Chicago, and he stands alongside (Vonn) Bell as one of the best strong safety options on the open market. This only happens if the Lions don't retain Tavon Wilson, who played well in Detroit but is headed toward a pay raise this offseason.
If Clinton-Dix signs with the Lions, it would mark the second-straight offseason that the Bears would lose a starting safety to an NFC North rival. Adrian Amos signed with the Packers in 2019.
It would also make it two years in a row that Pace will have to find a starter at a critical defensive position. Fortunately for Chicago, there will be a few options who not only are worthy of a starting gig but who may, in fact, be an upgrade over Clinton-Dix.
CHICAGO BEARS: Vonn Bell, safety
The Bears have very little cap room to work with, and it's unlikely they'll be able to do much of anything at their current position. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is in search of a big payday in free agency, meaning Chicago will need to address the position in some form. Without cutting someone to create space, this isn't likely to happen, but Bell might sign at a lower number, at least.
Bell was the NFL's top run-defending safety in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus, which is the kind of profile the Bears could be looking for to complement Jackson's playmaking ability in the passing game. He'd be a closer match to Amos, whose physical style of play allowed Jackson to focus on creating turnovers and splash plays.
Much of Pace's decision will come down to the cost of each player. It's highly unlikely the Bears will pay two safeties at the top of the position's market value, which makes a player like Bell a more likely target because of his expected mid-level salary.