Whitner, who spent the last three seasons in San Francisco with the 49ers, will likely be returning to his native Ohio on a multi-year deal when free agency starts in a little less than three hours from now. According to various reports around the Internet world, the former Pro Bowler will sign with the Cleveland Browns.
Browns ‘close to deal’ with safety Donte Whitner http://t.co/mfH5p2l9WP
— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) March 11, 2014
Whitner turned his career around big time after signing with San Francisco back in 2011. He was nothing more than a bust with the Buffalo Bills after being selected No. 8 overall back in the 2006 draft. The strong safety has earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons. He recorded over 80 tackles with two interceptions and two forced fumbles last season.
Flush with cap space, the Browns likely offered Whitner a ton more money than the 49ers were willing to offer. In the end, that as well as a return home probably had the most weigh in Whitner’s decision-making process.
For their part, the 49ers have made the organizational decision no to value safeties, at least from a financial aspect. They let Dashon Goldson walk on a ridiculous long-term deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and replaced him with rookie first-round pick Eric Reid, who proceeded to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl in his initial season.
They will be just fine.
Photo: Jeremy Brevard, USA Today