Less than six months after guaranteeing him $2.25 million on a one-year contract, the Dallas Cowboys have released safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. The move not only creates a vacancy in the Cowboys’ starting defensive backfield and cancels a reunion between Clinton-Dix and former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy but, perhaps more importantly, raises renewed questions about whether Dallas will pursue free agent Earl Thomas for safety help.

Trimming their roster ahead of Saturday’s league-wide cut-down, the Cowboys will save $1.5 million in 2020 salary cap space by cutting Clinton-Dix, per Archer, and apparently also believe that fellow safety Xavier Woods, who injured his groin late in training camp, will be ready to suit up for the team’s Sept. 13 season opener. Otherwise, Dallas would be approaching Week 1 with neither of its projected starting safeties available for a “Sunday Night Football” showdown with the Los Angeles Rams.

Clinton-Dix, 27, is far removed from his 2016 Pro Bowl form and was preparing to play for his fourth team in three years. But his release still comes as a surprise considering he was long penciled in as the Cowboys’ starting strong safety opposite Woods. A first-round draft pick of McCarthy and the Packers back in 2014, the Alabama product racked up eight interceptions over his final two seasons in Green Bay but saw mixed results with Washington (2018) and the Chicago Bears (2019).

NFL Network’s Jane Slater reports Clinton-Dix’s release does not necessarily mean Earl Thomas is bound for Dallas. And CBS Sports Cowboys insider Patrik Walker previously noted that McCarthy has been resistant to the idea of bringing Thomas, an apparent locker-room issue with the Baltimore Ravens, onto his revamped Cowboys roster. But Dallas has, in fact, had “discussions” about targeting the former Seattle Seahawks star, per Walker, and the two sides have hinted at a union for a while.

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