Report: Browns Expected To Replace S T.J. Ward By Signing Donte Whitner
Amid reports surfacing that the Cleveland Browns have “significant” interest in trading with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Darrelle Revis, the Browns are not staying stationary at the safety position, either.
According to Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns intend to sign former San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner as soon as the 4 PM opening of the free agency period begins a little over an hour from now.
Whitner, 28, would replace departing free agent safety T.J. Ward. Originally from the area himself, Cabot writes that Whitner is “excited to return to Cleveland and help turn his beloved city around”.
According to her source, “this would be a chance for him to come back home and give back to the community…He feels it’s his responsibility to make his hometown a better place.”.
The former Ohio State safety would also help replace a leadership vacuum created following the release of veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who reportedly requested his release and has since signed on with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Pittsburgh Steelers could potentially be in the market for a safety, as they are anticipated to allow free safety Ryan Clark to hit free agency and sign with another team, assuming he continues his career.
If the Browns, who have a wealth of cap space, are bracing to lose one of their own marquee free agents in Ward, however, it’s likely not very reasonable to assume that the Steelers stand much of a chance to do so.
Pittsburgh has too many positions to address in free agency to go after a high-profile safety a year after drafting Shamarko Thomas, whom defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said has first-round talent, outside of his comparatively short stature.
Ward, in addition, is more of an in the box safety, which is what Troy Polamalu primarily is these days.
According to Pro Football Focus, Polamalu spent nearly 80 percent of his snaps in the box last season, a figure bloated by the frequent use of the quarters package with the strong safety playing the role of linebacker.
The Steelers would be better suited looking for a deep safety with good range on the back end to help cut down on some of the explosive plays that plagued the secondary last season, which may be better addressed in the draft, especially with Stevie Brown having re-signed with the New York Giants.