Replacing Adrian Amos in free agency wasn’t going to be easy. Amos was a durable, reliable, and dependable defender who played the run well, improved as a pass defender in his last two seasons, and helped stop the rotating door of poor safety play that plagued the Chicago Bears for a lengthy amount of time.
But not only have the Bears replaced Amos, they appear to believe they have made an upgrade at the position with the signing of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix:
Bears director of player personnel Josh Lucas described the signing of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as icing on the cake in free agency – Skrine, Patterson and Davis were the top 3 targets, and probably more realistic. The Bears had consistently given Ha Ha a higher grade than Adrian Amos.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) June 9, 2019
During a panel on the final day of the Bears100 Celebration, Director of Player Personnel Josh Lucas said the team has graded Clinton-Dix above Amos for quite some time.
For what it’s worth, the Bears’ assessment would go counter to what Pro Football Focus’ grades have shown in recent years. Amos earned grades of 69.3, 73.2, 90.9, and 82.7 from 2015-18. In that same stretch of years, Clinton-Dix earned grades of 77.7, 70.1, 71.5, and 79.3. Given this information, one could understand why this revelation from Lucas might come as a surprise to some.
But perhaps it shouldn’t be a shocker. Clinton-Dix was an All-American in high school, a Consensus All-American at Alabama in 2013, and a first-round pick in 2014 coming out of a Crimson Tide program that churns out high-end prospects and productive pros at an impressive rate. And as a pro, Clinton-Dix was on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team in 2014, then earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors in 2016. So when we’re talking about Clinton-Dix, we’re talking about a player who has had a strong body of work that dates back over a longer period of time. With all due respect to Amos, that prospect pedigree is something he simply can’t match.
I hope this isn’t viewed as a slight on Amos, who grew into one of the Bears’ better defenders during his time in Chicago. Amos went from being a fifth-round pick behind veterans on the depth chart, worked his way up from the bottom, rose into being a key cog in a top-ranked defense, and became one of the most highly sought-after free agents this past offseason. Between the attention (and contract) he received with the development that took place during his four-year stint in Chicago, the Amos pick should be viewed as a win for the Bears.
What happens with Amos and Clinton-Dix will be a fun sidebar to follow starting in Week 1, because the only thing that matters is which player is better moving forward. The Bears might believe they have the better player now, but only time will tell if their evaluation is correct.