Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix

Bears happy for Adrian Amos, see ‘win-win’ in signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 

Bears happy for Adrian Amos, see ‘win-win’ in signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 

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.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

clinton-dixthumb.jpg
USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

It's been a almost a week since the Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix signing and it's still looking like a total win for the Bears. JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan on why the Bears appear to have gotten a bargain (1:00) , how Dix could be the perfect fit for this defense at this time, and the chemistry he'll have with former 'Bama teammate Eddie Jackson. Plus probably too much punter talk after the Bears bring back Pat O'Donnell (9:30), and some more edge rusher possibilities in the next wave of free agency (14:00). And of course an update on the Chicago Football Madness as 7-seed Alex Brown makes a desperate attempt to launch a comeback and avoid an upset against 10-seed Robbie Gould (22:10)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

The match between Bears, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looks ideal

The match between Bears, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looks ideal

Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix could’ve signed elsewhere for more money. Washington reportedly wanted him back; surely there was a solid market for a safety with 14 career interceptions. 

But Clinton-Dix chose a one-year deal worth a reported $3.5 million with the Bears. These are the kind of signings good teams are able to make when a free agent wants a shot at a Super Bowl more than a larger payday, at least for one year. 

“I was getting calls from other teams who wanted to sign me and the money was more,” Clinton-Dix said. “You see so many guys get to the end of their careers, their successful careers, and now they’re trying to chase a ring. I have the opportunity to do that in my prime.”

Clinton-Dix sees the Bears as a team that was “an Eddie Jackson away from winning a Super Bowl” in 2018, a nod to his friend and fellow safety’s ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the Bears’ wild card loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. From that standpoint, the Bears presented the best opportunity for him to build his free agency value a year from now while also providing a legitimate chance at winning a Super Bowl. 

And it's a lot easier to build your value as a free agent when you're making plays on the NFL's biggest stage. 

“Prove that I’m one of the best, man, and go out and win a championship,” Clinton-Dix said of his 2019 goals. “I think I got the perfect opportunity, coming into something great that coach (Matt) Nagy has created over there in Chicago, and I’m excited about my opportunity.”

Having a strong relationship with Jackson only sweetened the deal. 

Jackson was hosted by Clinton-Dix on his recruiting visit to Alabama, which came 11 days after Clinton-Dix and the Crimson Tide throttled Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS Championship (this was back when Jackson was listed on Rivals.com as a three-star wide receiver recruit. Nick Saban wanted him as a safety. That was the right call). The two stayed close after leaving Alabama, with Jackson citing Clinton-Dix as someone on whom he relied for guidance before, during and after the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Clinton-Dix saw Jackson at Halas Hall on his visit and had a chance to chat with him, which further confirmed the conversations abut the Bears the two had in previous weeks. 

“He talked to me in this process about the culture in Chicago and I bought in, man,” Clinton-Dix said. “I was on for the ride, and I’m excited about it. Me and Eddie, we’re very similar players and that makes it tough on quarterbacks. We both can play left and right. It’s going to be fun and a challenge for other teams.”

General manager Ryan Pace talked at the NFL Combine about how safeties have to be interchangeable, not just be solely be a rangy free safety or in-the-box strong safety. Clinton-Dix made note of that versatility between him and Jackson, and said the transition to the Bears’ defense shouldn’t be difficult given the scheme similarities between that of Mike Pettine (in Green Bay) and Chuck Pagano, who spent time together with the Indianapolis Colts. 

Clinton-Dix has had at least three interceptions in each of the last three seasons, including a five-pick 2016 that earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. In having Clinton-Dix as Adrian Amos’ replacement, the Bears may be trading some discipline (a strength of Amos) for playmaking ability (a strength of Clinton-Dix). That’s not necessarily a bad thing given Pagano’s defense profiles as more aggressive.

Ultimately, the Bears likely did well to find a starting safety as accomplished as Clinton-Dix for the price they're paying. He may not be a solution beyond 2019 — after which Jackson will be due for a rich extension — but for the Bears’ chances of winning a Super Bowl, and for Clinton-Dix’s chances of landing a big contract a year from now, the match is ideal. 

“If there was any way I could come on to this team and contribute, man, and make plays and get my name back out there, I’m excited about that,” Clinton-Dix said. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.