The Dallas Cowboys gave Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a chance to take over the starting safety job this offseason
The Dallas Cowboys front office gave safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a one-year contract with the potential of earning $4 million this offseason. A fairly cheap price for a former first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2014, and a player who has started every single game since 2015 for the various teams he has played for. It is quite surprising to see a safety with the track record of Clinton-Dix for remaining healthy.
This contract was a way for America’s Team to get cheap production from a veteran player trying to prove he still belongs to start in this league. Especially seeing Clinton-Dix is still trying to prove that his 2016 Pro Bowl selection was not just a fluke season. A season in which the safety, only 24-years old at the time, intercepted five passes and broke-up another seven.
That is in the rear-view mirror for Clinton-Dix though as he was traded away from the Green Bay Packers in 2018 to the Washington Football Team. He never was given an extension on his rookie deal. A one-year deal with the Chicago Bears in 2019 leads us to now. A player who is trying to prove he is not just a short term fill-in for a secondary, this is likely his last chance though.
What should be expected of Clinton-Dix with the Dallas Cowboys?
The number one expectation is that Clinton-Dix can give America’s Team more production and pass defense than former safety Jeff Heath. Heath, known for his “shot out of a canon” tackling ability, and always playing bigger than his 212-pound stature still wasn’t great versus the pass. Less weight is on the run defense compared to the pass defense in the modern game.
Heath had only one interception the past two seasons, Clinton-Dix should be expected to make plays early and often in the season. A baseline of three to four interceptions and solid tackling ability would instantly put the recent journeyman safety in good graces with the Cowboys faithful.
For a player who has three or more interceptions in three of the past four seasons, this baseline performance measure is not far-fetched at all. If Clinton-Dix wants to continue to get opportunities to play starting safety he has to perform to his max this season, he cannot let the game pass him by. Even with the modest contract, Clinton-Dix should perform to his earlier career levels.
The reports have been less than overwhelming so far from training camp, so the push to being the Cowboys every week starting safety has to start now. The Dallas Morning News wrote this of the veteran safeties training camp.
“In March, the Cowboys signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to be one of their starting safeties in 2020. Seven practices into camp, the role is far from a lock, regardless what comes of Earl Thomas. … Clinton-Dix is struggling to seize the starting job on his own merit.”
The expectations are set, Clinton-Dix is fighting for his NFL future and the Dallas Cowboys are praying that the player they brought in to improve the secondary can actually take the field Week One as the starter. A quick turnaround is needed for the sake of every fan of America’s Team who has watched the secondary struggle for years.