- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Move over NBA and MLB: The NFL suddenly has some of the same crazy, in-season player-movement that basketball and baseball fans love.

Football’s trade deadline usually comes and goes with little fanfare — midseason shakeups traditionally are very rare.

But that’s changing — and on Tuesday, the Redskins got in on the action.

Washington sent a 2019 fourth-round pick to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, minutes before the trade deadline expired. The Redskins (5-2) are now all-in as they look to maintain their lead in the NFC East and get into the playoffs.

In Clinton-Dix, the Redskins add another quality defender for an already stout defense.

The deal could be a rental — Clinton-Dix is set to be a free agent this offseason.

But the Redskins figure the reward is worth the price, given the safety’s talent and durability. Drafted 21st overall in 2014, Clinton-Dix has never missed an NFL game and has played every snap this season.

Clinton-Dix, 25, is now projected to start opposite D.J. Swearinger. And together, the Redskins might have the top safety tandem in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranks Swearinger and Clinton-Dix as its two highest-graded safeties this season with a minimum of 240 snaps.

With the Packers this season, Clinton-Dix has forced one fumble and grabbed three interceptions in seven games. The latter is tied for second-most in the NFL — behind only Swearinger, who has four picks.

This season, Washington ranks 13th in passing yards allowed (242.3). That’s not terrible, though Clinton-Dix should help that number improve.

Clinton-Dix also gives Washington another player who played under Nick Saban at Alabama — joining Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Ryan Anderson, Cam Sims and Arie Kouandjio.

Safety wasn’t a position that was considered a weakness for the Redskins. Washington is high on second-year safety Montae Nicholson, who has started every game this season.

And last week, coach Jay Gruden said he didn’t anticipate the team making a trade, telling reporters he was “great with the guys we have.”

So what happened? Just take a look at the rest of the NFC East.

Last week, the Dallas Cowboys dealt a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper. And then on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles shipped a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for wideout Golden Tate.

Both deals are upgrades for the Cowboys’ and the Eagles’ receiving corps. And the moves also signaled the teams still feel the division is up for grabs, even with the Redskins holding a game-and-a-half lead.

Clinton-Dix is a solid counter to those moves, even if he won’t line up against Cooper and Tate directly. He also adds to Washington’s depth, which does fall off after Swearinger and Nicholson, who missed eight games last year with injuries.

The NFC East moves reflect an NFL that is increasingly open to midseason trades.

Earlier this season, the Raiders dealt star pass rusher Khalil Mack and got back multiple draft picks. The New England Patriots took a risk on troubled receiver Josh Gordon, acquiring him from the Cleveland Browns. The New York Giants had their fire sale last week, shipping off starters Damon Harrison and Eli Apple.

Tuesday’s trade deadline created even more chaos.

The Los Angeles Rams gave up two picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for pass rusher Dante Fowler. The Houston Texans acquired wide receiver Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos. The Packers also traded running back Ty Montgomery to the Baltimore Ravens.

That would have been unheard of six years ago, when the league moved back its deadline in hopes teams would be more active.

The NFL has finally got its wish.

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