The Bears’ defense, in all likelihood, is in a healthy enough place where losing Adrian Amos won’t deal a serious blow to its chances of success in 2019. Replacing him with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will help mitigate his loss, sure, but good teams are able to move on from good players and not be severely affected.
That’s how the Bears are approaching Amos leaving for the Green Bay Packers on a four-year deal with $12 million guaranteed. They’re the team that drafted and developed Amos into a guy worthy of that contract — they just weren’t going to be the team to give it to him.
“The first thing for Amos is it's almost one of those deals where you're proud,” general manager Ryan Pace said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix last month. “You know, you draft a guy where we drafted him (fifth round) and to see him grow as a player and the contract that he got, awesome for him.”
It might help Pace be proud of and happy for Amos, too, given the Bears could wind up with a 2020 compensatory draft pick for losing him to the Packers. The Bears haven’t had a comp pick since 2009.
Additionally: Replacing Amos with Clinton-Dix on a cheap one-year deal — his cap hit in 2019 is $3.25 million, the 20th highest on the team, per Spotrac — sweetens the deal. It was clear Clinton-Dix wanted to play for the Bears, which stands as a benefit of the team’s best season in eight years.
“We just felt like here’s a great opportunity for him coming to this defense and this city and this organization,” coach Matt Nagy said. “And it’s a great opportunity for us where it could fill a role at that spot — two guys that played together at Alabama, with Ha Ha and Eddie (Jackson) — and it could be a win-win situation.”
Nagy wasn’t the only one to call Clinton-Dix’s deal a “win-win” for all parties involved. Pace used that phrase, too: The Bears provide a good opportunity for Clinton-Dix to rebuild his value on the free agent market after a relatively disappointing 2018; in turn, the Bears are able to replace a solid starter with an inexpensive player who has some good traits and the right mindset entering 2019.
“A lot of times if it gets to that point (where the agent and player) can say hey, I want another bite at the apple if I play well and sometimes it's financially advantageous for us too,” Pace said. “And hey let's just be honest, usually these one-year deals, they are very motivated and he has the right makeup and character to come in and play well. And he fits well into the defense and obviously the familiarity with Eddie Jackson, I think that helps a lot too.”
Clinton-Dix and Jackson go way back — Clinton-Dix hosted Jackson on his recruiting visit to Alabama — which could help mitigate the loss of Amos from a communication and trust perspective in the back end of the defense. Clinton-Dix and Jackson, too, have 22 interceptions in their seven combined NFL seasons.
Amos going to Green Bay and Clinton-Dix going to Chicago may be a win-win for all parties, not just the Bears. The Packers added an assignment-sound, rock-solid player in the back end of a defense that needed those traits; the Bears were happy to see a former fifth-round pick develop into being the kind of guy deserving of the contract he got from the Packers, and then were pleased to replace him with a proven playmaker on a cheap one-year deal.
So while fans of each team will continue to argue about which of their former players is worse, in reality, both teams are pleased with how they addressed safety in free agency. Still, that the Amos-Clinton-Dix pseudo-swap happened will help ratchet up the intensity in the Bears-Packers rivalry ahead of Sept. 5’s centennial season opener at Soldier Field.
“It’s fun,” Nagy said. “It’ll be, I’m sure, a little bit of a storyline as we get into that Week 1 game. It’ll look funny seeing him that uniform. I’m sure it’ll look the same for the Packers fans with Ha Ha.”