After a month of failed attempts to re-sign T.J. Ward, the Cleveland Browns may start looking elsewhere. Ward is coming off his rookie contract, recently won Pro Bowl honors, and is seeking a lengthy contract worth millions. The 27 year old may be asking for more than the Browns are willing to pay, creating a void at the safety position.
Therefore, Donte Whitner is the perfect replacement at strong safety. The Browns are interested in bringing home the Cleveland native and the feeling is mutual. According to reports, Whitner listed Cleveland, along with Chicago and New York (Jets), as one of his top choices.
The Whitner family does reside here; I see them come into the Boneyard every Sunday to watch Donte play on the big screens. I could imagine moving back home would bring nothing but smiles to their faces. In addition, playing for your hometown team is probably a dream come true.
The 28 year old is entering his ninth NFL season away from home. Whitner has had plenty of success on the field, earning Pro Bowl honors twice. The safety has ten career interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 669 tackles. Whitner would be paired with Tashuan Gibson, whose skill set is reminiscent of Jairus Byrd. The Glenville High School graduate would be replacing his nearly identical counterpart, T.J. Ward.
They both are hard hitting safeties that could improve their coverage skills. Whitner would be capable of stopping the run as effectively as Ward. The Ohio State alum can perform in the secondary and in the box.
Despite being only one year older than Ward, Whitner would bring four more years of experience. The ball-hawk could contribute much needed playoff experience and veteran leadership. The veteran presence is no longer there without D’Qwell Jackson on the team. Whitner has been playing since he was a 20 year old drafted eighth overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2006, so the safety has plenty to offer.
Consequently, for five years the Cleveland native learned all about a losing football team. He also has had the pleasure of experiencing the winning culture of the San Francisco 49ers for three years. Hopefully, he can bring and spread this knowledge throughout the Cleveland locker room.
Donte Whitner wants to get paid but I think he also wants to come home. Speaking wishfully, Whitner chooses Cleveland with a hometown discount. Regardless, that $50 million in cap space is looking real good right now.
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