Continuing their trend on getting free-agent deals done past curfew, the Dallas Cowboys signed former Packers and Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a one year $4 million deal Thursday night. After losing cornerback Byron Jones to the Dolphins and safety Jeff Heath to the Las Vegas Raiders, reinforcements were needed in the secondary.
This will be the second time Clinton-Dix will be under head coach Mike McCarthy, getting drafted by him in the 2014 NFL Draft. The first-round pick out of Alabama started in 65 out of the 71 games during his time in Green Bay, contributing from the start.
After seven games in the 2018 season, McCarthy and the Packers traded Clinton-Dix to Washington for a fourth-round pick. The safety would then go on to sign a one year deal with the Bears, playing in all 16 games last season.
So what exactly does the newly acquired safety bring to the table? From a numbers perspective, it looks like the Cowboys just got a steal for only $4 million. If Dallas had drafted Clinton-Dix in 2014, he would have led the team in interceptions in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
When in coverage, Clinton-Dix gave up 26 completions on 44 targets. For comparison, Dallas’ Xavier Woods had 33 targets and saw 24 of them completed.
Beyond the numbers and looking at him on the field, Clinton-Dix has been a hit or miss player throughout his career. Once considered a great safety in the league, he has fallen off since making the Pro Bowl in 2016.
Here is what the Cowboys are getting with their new signing:
Clinton-Dix has an incredible range and has the ability to cover the entire field. Running a 4.58 back during his combine, the safety has the speed to fly around the field.
Here, he runs 15 yards back to cover his zone and takes advantage of a Carson Wentz overthrow:
In the same season against the Colts, he intercepts one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Andrew Luck. Clinton-Dix covers the entire right side of the field, jumping the underthrown pass:
Tackling has always been a concern for Clinton-Dix, having his good moments and his bad moments.
Missing nine tackles with the Bears in 2019, Clinton-Dix’s 10.3% miss tackle rate would have been fourth worst for the Cowboys last season, falling behind Anthony Brown (29.2%), Chidobe Awuzie (12.2%), and Darian Thompson (11.8%).
He has had his good moments and an example is last season against Washington. Clinton-Dix sniffed out the run, ran downhill and brought down Adrian Peterson.
The inconsistency showed later in the season though. From the Cowboys-Bears games from last season, Clinton-Dix had an opportunity to bring down Ezekiel Elliot near midfield. Instead, Elliot breaks the tackle and goes 20 yards downfield for a 31 yard gain.
What Dallas is getting is a player who has enormous potential with a potentially disastrous floor. Clinton-Dix has played like a Pro-Bowler throughout his career. However, he has also played poor enough that McCarthy traded him back in 2018.
Already struggling with tackling last season, Dallas could continue the same trend next season. With the introduction of Clinton-Dix though, they could improve their interception total from last season. Only getting seven INTs last year, that number was tied for dead last in the league with Arizona and Detroit.
The former first-round pick will be replacing Jeff Heath and possibly be playing with a rookie next season.
Overall, it is a good signing for the Cowboys. Secondary help is still needed, but Clinton-Dix will bring a familiar face to McCarthy’s defense.
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