Safety remains an ongoing issue for the Chicago Bears as the 2014 season draws ever closer. Could they get a boost by signing new free agent Chris Clemons?
Houston Texans cut Clemons in favor of Danieal Manning
Changes continue to come on the Houston Texans defense, but the latest one is a slight surprise. Just a few months ago the team signed 28-year old safety Chris Clemons to a two-year deal worth around $2.7 million. The plan was for him to become their starting free safety. Apparently that plan didn’t go as expected. Clemons was made one of their final roster cuts, and word soon surfaced the team planned to bring back veteran Danieal Manning, who himself was cut by Cincinnati. It’s a curious development. Manning is four years older than Clemons and actually has fewer tackles and interceptions over the past two seasons. One can only surmise Houston feels more comfortable with Manning, who started for them since 2011 but dealt with injuries.
Clemons grades higher than Ryan Mundy
Often when comparing players, the best source to use is Pro Football Focus because they take a deep look at whether it was the team or the player individually that is the problem during bad or good stretches. Clemons, historically has been a strong safety as he was with the Miami Dolphins. That would mean comparing him to Ryan Mundy, who is currently slated to start for Chicago.
Using the 2013 season as the benchmark, Mundy and Clemons each started games for their teams. In 667 defensive snaps for the New York Giants, Mundy posted a +0.2 grade with 77 tackles, a sack, two pass defenses and one interception. Conversely, Clemons played 1, 158 snaps and had a +4.1 grade with 93 tackles, eight pass defenses and an interception. Scouts see him as a very good box defender who rarely takes bad angles to the ball and tackles well. He also doesn’t get beat much in coverage despite his limited production in takeaways. At 6’1” he has the size to match up with tight ends and played well in preseason.
Realistically there isn’t much of a downside to this signing for the Chicago Bears. Chris Clemons is a veteran but nowhere near over the hill, can be trusted in coverage and almost never misses his assignments. If the numbers tell the tale, they might not have a better shot at improving over what they have at safety now in 2014.
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