The Cleveland Browns are reportedly set to sign former San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner when the deadline passes and teams are free to sign players according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. Whitner, 28, has been in the league since he turned 20 with the Buffalo Bills and recently the 49ers.
Financial details have not been released and will be a key factor in how this move is perceived (in my opinion) as it compares to the prospect of keeping T.J. Ward. Whitner, a former Ohio State Buckeye and formerly of Glenville High School has been pretty open about his interest in returning to the area and his interest in the Browns, tweeting as much yesterday.
From a schematic standpoint, Whitner is more comfortable playing on the back end with a little more range and ability against the pass, while Ward was more suited to play in the box and the best run defending safety in the NFL. It is unclear how much Ward wanted to return and how much this was a choice of styles. Ward was the more talented of the two while Whitner has had a more reliable history in terms of staying healthy and may be the superior fit for Mike Pettine’s defense if this happens.
The Browns are also reportedly the top team to secure inside linebacker Karlos Dansby’s services.