[The Cowboys have a long list of their own free agents to consider but reality is that several will not return. In this series, we’ll look at the many free agents set to hit the open market in 2020 and if any of those might be of interest to the Cowboys.]
Continuing our look into potential free agency targets for the Cowboys, how about another connection to new head coach Mike McCarthy?
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is no stranger to those that follow the Cowboys, he was a potential draft target in the 2014 NFL Draft but he wound up with the Packers. Clinton-Dix spent five seasons in Green Bay, starting 65 of 71 total games played. He recorded 275 solo tackles, had 25 PBU’s, and 14 interceptions during his stint with the Packers. In 2016, his work as the Packers’ free safety earned him Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
In week seven of 2018, the Packers traded Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick. In his first seven starts at free safety, Clinton-Dix had 27 tackles and three interceptions. He started nine games for Washington as a strong safety, recording 66 tackles and a forced fumble. This past offseason, Clinton-Dix signed a one-year, $5.5M deal with his former rival, the Chicago Bears. He started all 16 games, recorded 78 tackles, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and scored a defensive touchdown.
The Cowboys should consider getting serious about their safety position which has been undervalued for several years. Every offseason, Stephen Jones will give the media several statements about why guys like Tyrann Mathieu or Tre Boston are all box safeties and why they are “good with what they got”. They have been equally hesitant to spend high draft capital on safeties as well. The Cowboys passed on two pre-draft visitors, Taylor Rapp and Juan Thornhill, to select DT Trysten Hill. Rapp was selected by the Rams shortly after, had 99 combined tackles, three TFL’s, two interceptions, a pick-six, and fumble recovery in 15 games. Thornhill had 50+ tackles, three interceptions, and a pick-six in 16 starts as a rookie. Trysten Hill was inactive in nine games with the Cowboys.
Another issue is that the Cowboys have been among the worst defenses in takeaways. Jeff Heath is admirable contributor but he’s not cut out for the full-time role. Heath is often out of position and just isn’t a consistent enough tackler. Xavier Woods is a nice find for the Cowboys but he needs the benefit of being paired with someone that can teach him how to hunt. If new DC Mike Nolan can convince the front office to take a stab at more talent on the back end, the Cowboys might be able to bounce back quickly on defense.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is better than any safety the Cowboys have and the proof is in the production. The Cowboys might benefit greatly from signing a guy like Clinton-Dix and may even get him relatively cheap. For some reason, the safety market has been hard to predict over the past few years with only a handful of guys on mega-sized deals. The Cowboys need to stop flirting with the safety market and make a move to better their defense.