The Washington Redskins robust defense currently ranks fourth in total defense. As Tuesday’s trade deadline came to a close Washington got even stronger on defense. Washington traded its 2019 fourth-round draft pick in exchange for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Deadly Safety Duo
The Redskins secondary is led by safety D.J. Swearinger who is having a career year. He has an NFL best four interceptions including two last week against the New York Giants. According to the Washington Post, the former Gamecock has missed only two tackles this season. His versatility has also been key for the Redskins defense. He alternates between free safety, strong safety and covering the slot receiver.
Swearinger is excited about teaming up with Clinton-Dix and posted this picture on his Instagram page yesterday.
Earlier this year he was rated as of the top 100 players in the NFL.
With the addition of Clinton-Dix Washington has two of the best safeties in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
The highest graded safeties in the NFL so far this season. pic.twitter.com/4JRxNQc0uO
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 27, 2018
Swearinger and Clinton-Dix shared a common bond even before they became teammates. Both idolize the late Sean Taylor. Swearinger tapes up his facemask like Taylor and wears the number 36, Taylor’s rookie number. According to a 2014 article by the Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel, Clinton-Dix also admired Taylor.
He was asked if he could have dinner with any three people dead or alive who would it be. “Me and three people, I’d say for one, (the late NFL safety) Sean Taylor,”
responded Clinton-Dix. “I don’t really have a two or three.”
“He was my inspiration. I looked up to him. I idolized him. He’s a heck of a player. Man, he was a beast. I liked him a lot. To see him pass at such a young age, it was sad to me like he was my brother or something. And I didn’t even know him.”
Clinton-Dix was inspired by Taylor’s intimidation factor and his big hits.
“The way he comes up and hits. Everyone was scared of him. He was fast, too. He was a big kid, man. It was unbelievable to see the plays he could make. He’d knock people out in the Pro Bowl. It was crazy.”
Clinton-Dix wore the number 21 in Green Bay in memory of Taylor.
No one will confuse Swearinger or Clinton-Dix for Taylor. Both are excellent safeties but it unfair to compare them to someone with the unique skill set like Taylor. “Imagine the Seahawks’ tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor rolled into one player,” said USA Today writer Steven Ruiz in 2017. “He was that good.”
What it Means
Swearinger and Clinton-Dix may not be as good as Taylor but they easily form the best safety duo the Redskins have had since 2007 when Taylor was roaming the Redskins secondary alongside LaRon Landry.
The trade makes sense for the Redskins. The Redskins give the Packers a fourth-round pick for a talented 25-year old (almost 26) safety that is a former first-round pick. Clinton-Dix attended the University of Alabama and will join a whole host of players from Alabama on the Redskins roster. His former teammate at Alabama was fired up about the trade.
Welcome to DC bro @haha_cd6 let's tear it up!!!!
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallen93_) October 30, 2018
Clinton-Dix should take over for current starter Montae Nicholson. Clinton-Dix is a playmaker and should make an already solid Redskins defense even better. He currently has three interceptions, one of which occurred against the Redskins. Swearinger congratulated him after he picked of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith earlier this season.
The main concern over the acquisition of Clinton-Dix is that he is a free agent after this season. The amount of players Washington already has from Alabama will surely make it more enticing for Clinton-Dix to remain in the nation’s capital long term.
If he does not re-sign with the team Washington should receive a compensation draft pick in 2020.
It is a great trade for Washington. They get a talented playmaker that has yet to even enter his prime.
Washington directly responded to the Cowboys trade for Amari Cooper and the Eagles trade for Golden Tate. Washington still has to face the Eagles twice and the Cowboys once more on Thanksgiving. The addition of Clinton-Dix will help in those tough NFC East battles.
Getting to see Swearinger and Clinton-Dix line up together will be exciting. Clinton-Dix made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and Swearinger is currently playing at a Pro Bowl level.
For the first time in years, Washington has a pair of talented playmakers at safety. They are perhaps the best safety duo in the NFL.
…In Washington, Clinton-Dix will team up with D.J. Swearinger to form one of the NFL's top safety duos. Second-year Montae Nicholson will be reduced to No. 3 safety duties.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 30, 2018
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix can’t wait to get started.
.@haha_cd6: "I'm excited about a new start. I'm at a place where I love. I love Sean Taylor…My eyes light up every time I play here…I'm happy to be a part of this organization and I'm ready to keep this thing going."
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) October 31, 2018
Will Fairfax is a Washington Redskins editor and staff writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @willfairfax1. Looking for more Redskins news and features?Follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.