The 2018-2019 season for the Chicago Bears was largely categorized by a defensive resurgence of epic proportions. The Monsters of the Midway are back, there is no doubt, but entering this off-season, much was made about the potential departure of two key players: Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan. The former started fifty-six games in his four year tenure while the later flashed signs of brilliance in between stents of inactivity due to injuries. Both were key members of the league’s most dominant defense, and neither were resigned. Amos took a massive 4 year $37 million contract with the rival Packers, while Callahan reunited with longtime Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver, leaving behind two gaping holes to be filled by fourth year GM Ryan Pace. Buster Skrine, a scrappy veteran from Cleveland and New York entering his ninth professional season was signed before Callahan even set foot in Denver. But the question still remained: Who would start alongside Eddie Jackson at safety?

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It didn’t take the Chicago faithful long to start throwing out big (and expensive) names like Landon Collins and Earl Thomas, yet the Bears front office stood by and watched both be signed to massive contracts. Speculation and concern alike began to mount as veteran safety after veteran safety signed. First came Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs, followed by Lamarcus Joyner to the Raiders, then came Eric Reid to the Panthers and Eric Weddle to the Rams, and finally Kenny Vaccaro to Tennessee. An explosion of signings that all together averaged upwards of $10 million a year left the Bears in dire need of safety help, and Eddie Jackson looking for a partner. Then came the news that electrified Chicago fans everywhere: The Bears were meeting with former Alabama standout HaHa Clinton-Dix. It took Ryan Pace all of one night to convince the former Packer and Redskin safety that Chicago was the place for him, and the one year $3.5 million deal was announced the following day.

Clinton-Dix, a former first round pick by Green Bay in 2014, has established himself over his short career as one of the premier young ballhawking safeties the league has to offer. With fourteen career interceptions (three in seven postseason games), twenty-five pass defenses, and five and a half sacks, HaHa certainly figures to be an improvement in the passing game over Amos, who is behind significantly to Clinton-Dix in all of these categories. But perhaps the most valuable trait the new Bears safety brings to the metaphorical table is his relationship with Eddie Jackson. In 2013, Clinton-Dix, already an established collegiate superstar and projected first round pick, helped convince a young Jackson to take his talents to Tuscaloosa where the two played for a year together. Now, six years later, the young superstar repaid his mentor. “Eddie played a big role,” Clinton-Dix said. “He’s always been a fan of mine since he came to Alabama. He talked to me in this process about the culture in Chicago, and I bought in. I was on for the ride, and I’m excited about it.”

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The chemistry between the two of them will certainly be fun to watch over the next year, but the importance of this signing is far more than that of filling a positional need. HaHa Clinton-Dix hasn’t made a decision about where he would play football since April of 2010 when he committed to Nick Saban’s squad. He was drafted by Green Bay in 2014 and when the team feared they would be unable to resign the pro-bowler last season, they traded him to Washington for a measly fourth round pick. Now, almost exactly nine years later, Clinton-Dix turned down more money elsewhere for the chance to play for Chicago. A Pro-Bowl caliber player just now entering the prime of his young career left money on the table in favor of joining the culture Matt Nagy and his squad have created. For long suffering Bears fans, who compelled by their loyalty sat faithfully through the tortuous seasons that defined the Marc Trestman and John Fox eras, I can think of no greater consolation. And for a young team making a run at the Lombardi and looking to escape a recent legacy of mediocrity and dysfunction, I can think of nothing more intrinsically valuable.