Buster Skrine first got a glimpse of his new teammate Thursday morning, when he and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix jumped in separate cars headed for the same place. When they spoke later at Halas Hall, they realized they felt the same way about the Bears.
“He feels the culture’s good, and we’re all just happy to be able to come here and play together,” Skrine said.
By mid-afternoon, pleased with his interview, Clinton-Dix agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Bears worth a reported $3.5 million.
The safety replaces Adrian Amos, who received a larger check — $36 million over four years, with $12 million guaranteed, in a move made official Thursday — from Clinton-Dix’s old team, the Packers.
Clinton-Dix spent his first 4½ years in Green Bay, earning one Pro Bowl berth, before being traded to the Redskins in October. The former first-round pick isn’t as sure a tackler as Amos, but he’s more opportunistic. In five seasons, he has intercepted 14 passes. Amos had three in four years.
“I know he’s a playmaker; that’s one thing he does,” said Skrine, the Bears’ new starting slot cornerback. “He’s got a lot of interceptions and he’s not scared to hit anybody.”
Clinton-Dix was motivated to play alongside his friend and former Alabama teammate, safety Eddie Jackson. The second-year player is fresh off a first-team All-Pro honor and his first Pro Bowl nod. Jackson earned $435,024 in performance-based pay, the NFL announced Thursday, which almost matched his $555,000 base salary from last year.
It’s Jackson’s success that makes the signing prudent for the Bears. They know that Jackson will be due an extension next year, and couldn’t stomach paying two safeties top dollar. Instead, they are giving Clinton-Dix, still only 26, a low-risk deal in a division he knows well. The safety gets to prove himself on perhaps the league’s best defense.
“Having a guy like that, he came from Alabama — one of the best college systems in college football — and then carrying it over to the NFL as a playmaker,’’ Skrine said. “It’s going to be awesome having him in the back end with me.”
Redskins senior vice president Doug Williams indicated that they wanted to keep Clinton-Dix, saying hours before his signing that the door was open for his return, and “there’s no lock on it.”
NOTE: Receiver Kevin White is expected to sign with the Cardinals, the NFL Network reported, bringing an expected end to his disappointing Bears’ career. The former No. 7 overall pick was a frequent healthy scratch last year, the only injury-free season of his career. He finished his Bears’ career with 25 catches, 285 receiving yards and zero touchdowns.