Report: Donte Whitner Signs with the Cleveland Browns [UPDATE]

By DJ Byrnes on March 11, 2014 at 4:11p
84 Comments

[UPDATE 3/11 3:15 p.m.] Whitner is officially a Cleveland Brown.


Donte Whitner's next stop in his professional career will apparently be with his hometown Cleveland Browns. Per Cleveland.com:

49ers safety Donte Whitner expects to sign with his hometown Cleveland Browns shortly after 4 p.m. today, a source close to Whitner told cleveland.com.

[...]

The source said Whitner is excited to return to Cleveland and help turn his beloved city around. He starred at Glenville High under Ted Ginn Sr. and at Ohio State.

"This would be a chance for him to come back home and give back to the community,'' the source. "He feels it's his responsibility to make his hometown a better place.''

You can almost feel Jim Tressel (and Ted Ginn Sr.) beaming with pride as he reads those last two paragraphs.  

This likely means the end of Pro Bowl safety TJ Ward's reign in Cleveland. Whitner would be the first move in the Browns' apparent quest to make a splash in this free agency window. The team is rumored to be the front-runner for Arizona's Karlos Dansby and could be cooking up a trade for Tampa Bay's Darrelle Revis.  

84 Comments

Comments

LouBuck35's picture

As a Bengals fan, this pains me.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

+12 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

It's okay. I like this move, but as a Browns fan, pretty much everything pains me...

+17 HS
gm3jones's picture

Yeah, this is going to hurt (playing him twice a year), but maybe we can get there safety? That is a certain need for us.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

It could get worse. Michael Johnson reportedly signing with Tampa Bay later today

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

LouBuck35's picture

But they resigned Brandon Tate, so all is well!

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

Jason Gruber's picture

SWEET!!

"You win with People" Woody Hayes

+1 HS
otrain2416's picture

I love Whitner but I'd rather get a young TJ ward long term 

+1 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

Ward is 27 (28 in December) and Whitner is 28 (but will be 29 this summer). 

+9 HS
Earle's picture

True, but Whitner has 8 years in the league vs. Ward's 4.  A lot of miles on those tires.  The good thing is that he's been pretty durable so far, while TJ has missed quite a bit of time.

Italics are for emphasis.

+3 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

I agree, I was just pointing out that they're closer in age than most think. 

 

+2 HS
DJ Byrnes's picture

I had to Google this to confirm. That's crazy Ward is only a year and a half younger than Whitner. I thought Ward was like 24-25. 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Well, he has been associated with the Browns for 4 years, and that's been known to age players and fans at a faster rate than normal.

+22 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Now they're just a QB, OL, RB, coach, and owner away from winning a Super Bowl.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+13 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

You forgot WR and LB, among others...but they're well on their way.

+3 HS
DJ Byrnes's picture

Don't sleep on Dion Lewis. He was great during pre-season before being injured in the most Browns-way possible (3 and 8 and catching a 4 yard pass and breaking his leg.) Browns still have a lot of needs, but thankfully they've got 13 picks in the upcoming draft.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Dion Lewis isn't a starting running back

 

And to everyone else, Edwin Baker is not a NFL running back. He won't be on this roster next year IMO

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

-1 HS
rufio's picture

It might not even be Dion Lewis. The good news is the same system Kyle Shannahan is going to run has paved the way for guys like Tatum Bell, Mike Bell, Reuben Droughns, etc. to be productive backs, turned late round/UDFA guys like Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, and Terrelle Davis into stars, and revived the career of Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett.

They've found and made running backs with that system.

(and if you don't like this plan the rumor is Ben Tate will be in town tomorrow)

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Josh Gordon is all they need at WR.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Which is good, cause right now he's all they have.

+5 HS
WezBuck28's picture

And nobody that can throw him the ball...

703Buckeye's picture

They need a legit #2 receiver... chucking it up to Gordon will get harder this year as everyone (attempts to) smother him. I still want Watkins at #4.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

+8 HS
buckeyecityterror's picture

Pettine obviously wanted wHitner for a reason. Maybe he didn't think T.J ward was the answer. And this will sell tickets.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

+2 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

Same style of player and Whitner comes cheaper, thanks to that hometown discount

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+1 HS
Hayesedandconfused's picture

They paid Whitner more than what Denver paid Ward

Whitner 4 years 28 million

Ward 4 years 23 million

rufio's picture

If you look at the guaranteed money it is about the same.

AndyVance's picture

And this will sell tickets.

This should not be underestimated. The Browns front office would be smart businessmen (ha ha ha) if they went out and bought up as many top-shelf former Buckeyes as they could get their mitts on. Hell, call up Troy Smith to solve that little QB conundrum you've got there, fellas. Fill the seats, see what happens. It could be a little magic in a bottle, who knows.

+5 HS
Max's picture

Eh.  Browns were at 97% capacity last year, and they have a wait list for season tickets.  Filling seats is not the problem, keeping butts in the stadium past the third quarter is.  Former Buckeyes are great, but they haven't had a good track record with recent picks (Robiskie comes to mind).

+2 HS
AndyVance's picture

Meh, all this really tells us is that the Browns haven't done a great job at drafting former Buckeyes, or at least at developing the ones they've picked into great NFL players. Take your pick.

+2 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

Him, Haden and Gibson = good; now they just need about 19 other guys. Is Joe Thomas still on the line? Make that 18 openings.

As a Bengals fan, I would like to see the Browns step it up; their fans deserve something better.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

Browns supposedly still in play for Jairus Byrd and Darrelle Revis, so something could happen there, too.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+1 HS
mh277907's picture

As a Bengals fan, I would like to see the Browns step it up

I forgot how good the Bengals have been recently.

The Browns have been a terrible franchise for years but I do find it funny when Cincy fans act like they have won something in the last, oh, 23 years or so.

buckeyebobcat

+2 HS
BierStube's picture

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+6 HS
gm3jones's picture

I am happy for the Browns. Good deal. Now if Bengals can get Ward (or any FA) maybe we can actually win a playoff game? I know, wishful thinking. Back to the Buckeyes.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

northwest_buckeye's picture

I'm not sure if this was an upgrade or downgrade for the Browns... I'd like to see what they're paying for his services. Could turn out to be a good move if they get him for the right price. Then again, he could fall under the Cleveland curse and be out of the league by this time next year.

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Gotta think he'll come at a bigger discount than whatever somebody is going to throw at Ward. I like TJ, a lot actually, but he was a liability in coverage. I'd rather take the same type of player (Whitner) for a cheaper price and allow the Browns to bring other pieces in. As mentioned above, Whitner is also much more durable than TJ.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

Go1Bucks's picture

Any possibility they keep Ward (re-teach him some fundamentals) and give us a boost at the position?  What would be the cost/benefit on this DJ?

Go Bucks!

DJ Byrnes's picture

Zero chance, imho. They're not going to shell out that cash for the same player. Ward's gone.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

SeattleBuckeye20614's picture

Broncos just picked him up

+1 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

Thanks DJ - and solves that question. lol

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
BrewstersMillions's picture

More often than not, deals announced prior to the start of free agency aren't usually of the discounted variety. I don't think he'll be the highest paid player in the league but I'd be shocked if the Browns got him for the low.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

DJ Byrnes's picture

Fair point, Brewsters. Still think he'll sign for much less than Ward will get though.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

UrbanPirate's picture

Nice profile pic bro

Just... Go Bucks.

    

BrewstersMillions's picture

Seems like a better PR move than football move. Wittner's style is sort of a dying breed in the NFL. Not to engage in a debate about soft NFL rules protecting people but he's a hit first safety that isn't great in coverage. He'll add some physicality to the mix but he's exposable in coverage. With the rules being what they are, a guy like Wittner sort of sets you back to an era of football thats on its way out. He's not going to be confused for a goon like Brandon Merriweather but glorified LB's that play safety are facing extinction. Too many great athletes capable of  making  plays in the middle of the field these days for a guy like Wittner to make an impact on a team that justifies the paycheck. 

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

-2 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

Is Whitner's style really dying? TJ Ward plays the same way and he made the Pro Bowl this past season

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+3 HS
BrewstersMillions's picture

The way the league is trending, yes. Big hits are great, when they aren't flagged. Run support is even better but the tight end position is changing way faster than its counterpart, the safety, is. The next great evolution needs to be at the safety spot. Because such great athletes are attacking the middle, the players usually charged with guarding them need to be taller and more fluid. Wittner is a highlight hit followed by a yellow flag waiting to happen. Ward made second team all pro and thats nothing to shake a stick at but liabilities in coverage sink defenses.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

-1 HS
buckeyecityterror's picture

Have you SEEN Cam Chancellor? Safety's that will meet a running back at the line of scrimmage and are very physical in coverage will never disappear from the NFL.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

+9 HS
Hovenaut's picture

The Macho Fan approves.

Ooooh yeah...

 

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

+6 HS
703Buckeye's picture

Macho Fan needs to hit the weight room to pull that off a little better.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Or check in with Coach Mick.

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

+2 HS
OSUStu's picture

Or at least get some pointers from the two raging meatheads in front of him.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

Unky Buck's picture

Oddly enough, that's the only facial hair that he can grow. He was destined to be a meathead from the time he was conceived.

...

OSUStu's picture

Poor guys.  But the chinstrap beard has no place on a man's face.  Just shave it off.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

TUNBUCK89's picture

The NFL has proven that without a great passing QB, the team is unlikely to reach elite level. This will remain the biggest need for the browns.

+3 HS
BoFuquel's picture

As a Browns fan my cry for the last 50 years has been: FIRE THE OWNER!   BEER WE GO BROWNIES!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

+2 HS
sivaDavis's picture

As a 49ers fan this saddens me, but at least I can watch one of my favorite players play without having to go to St.Louis when the Niners play there. Missed my chance at seeing them in Detroit.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
LouBuck35's picture

$7 mil a year? Reports saying SF didn't want to go above $4 mil per. Are they overpaying here?

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

House804's picture

Teams almost always overpay in FA.  When you play in the Factory of Sadness, you definitely overpay in FA.

 

Go Browns!

We talkin' bout practice?!  Not the game I love...the game I die for.  Practice?!

southbymidwest's picture

Ehh if a team is going to overpay a FA, I would much prefer them to pay a Buckeye who is excited about playing for and gives a crap about his hometown, yaknowwhatimean?

+4 HS
lamplighter's picture

The Browns signed Hittner?  C'mon you're kidding.  Really?

Now fix the OL so whoever plays QB and whoever runs the ball has a chance

703Buckeye's picture

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

+3 HS
southbymidwest's picture

Umm, no Reid Fragel on there? Drafted by the Bengals last year, made their practice squad, Browns signed him off that in the middle of the season.  Sooo Donte becomes the 42nd player then?

703Buckeye's picture

The list is missing Fragel but the number (41) is correct and does include him.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

osubuck57's picture

Love the Whitner signing, but Revis, NO THANKS!! Don't need any ME players. All he's about is showing him the money.With their 10 picks , they can draft another CB, or get one with a lot less baggage, cheaper.

SCOTTC.

+2 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I don't think this is going to make much of a difference.  Might be a small upgrade at best over Ward.  But it is cool to see a hometown guy go play for the hometown team.

Class of 2010.

-1 HS
Bailey458's picture

I would argue the Hitner signing is huge, it certainly is addition by non-subtraction. It's not like the Browns were signing Ward anyways, Whitner is definitely better than any other safety they could have got and he is a buckeye. 

As a bengals fan I would LOVE for them to sign more Buckeyes.  Instead we draft SEC, Michigan and USC, grumble.  It's tough to root for Maulauga, Leon Hall, Carlos Dunlap drafting of Chris Perry (complete waste), the list goes on.  At least we have Nugent though.

+2 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Yeah, me too re: the Bengals.  Love having Nugent and Dane on the team making some plays (especially Nuge kicking game winners).  As far as rooting for SEC/TTUN/USC players, hey, if they produce and help the team win, then I will support them.

Class of 2010.

Li Xiao Buckeye's picture

Wait a second... Cleveland still has a football team?!?!?!  

I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations and you're not in this world to live up to mine. - Bruce Lee

BeijingBucks's picture

Yup, uniforms and everything!

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+4 HS
DC-town's picture

They would have needed to go higher than 7 mil per, to get Ward and Whitner is a similar player that actually better in coverage-

You gotta love what DQ brought to the locker room, but dansby is an upgrade in the middle too- both serious players that should do well in the locker room.  

So end of the day it's the same money, Whitner and dansby or ward/DQ...not even close IMO.  

'Piss excellence' -RB

+1 HS
DC-town's picture

Malcolm Jenkins went to Philly for 3yrs, 14 mill (8 guaranteed)...how the he11 did that happen...browns should have grabbed him too for their fs spot

'Piss excellence' -RB

+1 HS
DC-town's picture

Yes we still have a team...we have uniforms and everything 

'Piss excellence' -RB

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

Ha... Was reading comments. Beat me to it!

 

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Floyd Stahl's picture

Now if he'll only complete this awesomeness by changing his name to Hitner.

Buck Commander's picture

My Bengals will sit with their thumbs up their asses match no offers and lose out like normal.........And be about as aggressive as Amir Williams  in the paint.NOT

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

+2 HS
Larrinator's picture

Who Dey! The Browns paid too much for Whitner. 

Larson

-2 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

Maybe so, but he will be a fan favorite with style of play and Cleveland and Buckeye ties.

As it is a done deal, then lets embrace the hitsanity and look forward to more.

 

Go Browns!

Go Bucks!

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

+1 for the Major League reference sir!

SoDakBuckeyeFan

+1 HS
ITWASME's picture

Now, trade some later picks for another first round pick and pick up Gilbert from Okie St and shore up the rest of the secondary

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I'm still convinced the pair of 1st round picks should be saved for WR's. I would rather see the Browns give Hoyer another shot. IMO he was the best QB they have had since '99 in those first 4 games. The Browns need a lot of help, but Whitner was a good sign. I'm not sure how much money Revis wants, but if it's in the budget I say go for it. Avoid taking a QB high and save the money for needs elsewhere.

My .02

1st round:  WR / WR   Very deep group, Watkins, Evans or Lee will be excellent pro's IMO.

2nd round: Manziel if he falls, if not take Hyde if he's there.

3rd round: OL / LB

4th round: QB Jimmy Garrappolo if Manziel is not there in early 2nd.

5-7:  pad depth everywhere.

I think Bridgewater is the best Pro style QB in the draft, but I don't know if he is a good fit in Cleveland when it comes to weather(smaller hands). I know Manziel is a toolbag, but the kid can play, and might be the type of player who would thrive utilizing his improvising skills. WR is very deep, which is awesome for the Browns. Some later round guys like Mathews, or Paul Richardson could be steals. Overall this is a solid draft and I think the Browns have an excellent chance to make dramatic improvements..... with that said, there's always next year boys! Here we go!

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

BKshepherd's picture

Man, he looks like Barry Bonds in this pic.

 

Seattle Linga's picture

28 million over four year is just a little bit more than what I made the last 4 years at the office.

Shangheyed's picture

Good move, now get a CB, LB and OG.... then build thru the draft at WR, RB, LB and OL.