The Green Bay Packers have sent safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix to the Washington Redskins, so it’s time to grade the deal.
In final year of his contract with agreement on an extension nowhere in sight, Green Bay Packers safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix was on the trade block. He acknowledged the possibility he’d be elsewhere by Tuesday’s trade deadline, after previously saying he expected to be elsewhere upon hitting free agency next March. Just ahead of the deadline, the Packers indeed made a deal involving their starting free safety.
Clinton-Dix has played every snap for the Packers through seven games, with three interceptions, 27 total tackles, three pass breakups, one sack and one forced fumble thus far. But knowing they had no intention to bring him back in free agency next spring, even with last offseason’s diminished safety market in mind, Green Bay was left to try to get something of value for the 2014 first-round pick.
So let’s grade the trade for both sides.
Clinton-Dix should immediately replace Montae Nicholson as Washington’s starting free safety alongside strong safety D.J. Swearinger, and he’s an immediate, significant upgrade.
The Redskins are leading the NFC East, with a defense that’s top-five in the league in total (322.4 yards per game; fourth), rushing (80.1 yards per game; second) and scoring defense (19.1 points per game; fifth). It’s not like they’re incredibly bad against the pass, allowing 242.3 yards per game (13th in the league), but they are allowing a 66.3 percent completion rate (22nd in the league). Clinton-Dix can certainly help there, with 11 interceptions and 16 pass breakups over the last two-and-a-half seasons.
The Packers downgraded substantially at free safety by parting with Clinton-Dix, to Jermaine Whitehead. That could really hurt, as they’re right in the mix in the NFC North at 3-3-1 ahead of playing three of their next four games on the road against the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings.
Who Green Bay takes with that fourth-round pick next April will better decide how they ultimately come out of this trade. But those mid-round picks are at best a coin flip to stick, let alone be a notable contributor, and the Packers unloaded a safety who is moving toward consideration for a second Pro Bowl selection in three seasons.
If Green Bay was resigned to looking strictly toward 2019, parting with Clinton-Dix could be explained more easily. But with Aaron Rodgers’ Super Bowl window closing fast, it would have been better to keep Clinton-Dix as a key piece of the defense for the rest of the season and remain as all-in as possible. Instead, general manager Brian Gutekunst willingly took a good player off a mediocre secondary and got no immediate help.