A day after the Bears lost in brutal fashion to the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix posted a photo of his friend and fellow ex-Alabama safety Eddie Jackson to Instagram with a caption that included this line:
“Can’t wait to see you Score on Offense in the years to come.”
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix posted this to Instagram after the Bears lost to the Eagles. The friendship between him and Eddie Jackson is real. pic.twitter.com/RmEFBtq2ux— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) March 14, 2019
Clinton-Dix will get an opportunity to see if Jackson can do that — or just keep scoring touchdowns on defense — up close, at least for 2019.
The Bears signed Clinton-Dix to a one-year contract on Thursday worth $3.6 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Adding Clinton-Dix, who spent all but nine games of his career with the Packers, offers an inexpensive answer to the question facing the Bears after Adrian Amos’ departure to Green Bay.
Clinton-Dix is a starting-caliber safety who had three interceptions last year, and has 14 in his five-year career. The Packers dealt Clinton-Dix to Washington before last season’s trade deadline, and Washington wanted to keep the 26-year-old former first round pick:
Got to tell Doug Williams that Clinton-Dix signed with the Bears. He didn’t seem thrilled. Said time to go to work.— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 14, 2019
This is the kind of move the Bears’ success in 2018 allowed them to make. Clinton-Dix could’ve teamed up with another former Alabama teammate in Landon Collins in Washington, but the Bears are far closer to the Super Bowl and have a widely-respected culture. Slot corner Buster Skrine, who arrived at Halas Hall on Thursday as Clinton-Dix was visiting, said he and his new teammate talked about how excited they were to come to the Bears.
“We chopped it up a little bit,” Skrine said. “He feels the same way — He feels the (culture) is good and we're all just happy to be able to come here and play together.”
Said Skrine of Clinton-Dix, too: “I know he's a playmaker, that's one thing he does. He's got a lot of interceptions and he's not scared to hit anybody. Having a guy like that, he came from Alabama, one of the best college systems in college football and then carrying it over to the NFL as a playmaker, it's going to be awesome having him in the back end with me.”
Clinton-Dix fits next to Jackson in a number of ways beyond the strong relationship between the two safeties.
First, from a cost perspective, a one-year deal for a veteran makes sense given the Bears’ current and future budgets. The Bears don’t have much cap space with which to work right now, and Jackson will be a due a rich extension some time before or after the 2020 season. Committing to one year of Clinton-Dix could allow the Bears to draft a safety to potentially be a cheap, long-term replacement (and the Bears found their prior safety pairing, Jackson and Amos, in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively). And if Clinton-Dix doesn’t work out, the Bears aren’t on the hook for anything beyond 2019.
Second, Jackson and Clinton-Dix are playmakers, the kind of guys who should fit well together in Chuck Pagano’s aggressive scheme. Clinton-Dix, for what it’s worth, had the highest Pro Football Focus grade (79.3) in 2018, and missed fewer tackles (eight), than Amos did last year (nine). That’s not to say Clinton-Dix is better than Amos, but it’s something worth noting here. Clinton-Dix, too, has never missed a game in his career. He also made a critical play in Week 1 to prevent the Bears from getting a first down that helped spark the Packers' comeback.
And third, Clinton-Dix is someone next to whom Jackson should be comfortable playing. There is a legitimate friendship between the two, dating back to when Clinton-Dix hosted Jackson on his recruiting visit to Alabama. Jackson spoke of his admiration for Clinton-Dix all the way back during training camp in 2017, too:
“Ha Ha is one of those guys, he’s going to keep pushing,” Jackson said. “He’s going to stay on top of you. but he’s going to do it from a brotherly standpoint, not a coach standpoint.”
And Jackson, on Thursday afternoon, certainly seemed happy about the guy he’ll be playing with in 2019:
Meanwhile, on Eddie Jackson’s Instagram: pic.twitter.com/SCZbmxMKzk— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) March 14, 2019