3:10pm: The Browns have reached an agreement on a four-year, $28MM deal with Whitner, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
2:44pm: The Browns’ agreement with Whitner is expected to be worth in the neighborhood of $7MM annually over four years, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). The deal would make Whitner one of the league’s top 10 highest-paid safeties and sounds like it’d be similar to contracts signed by Kam Chancellor and Reshad Jones.
12:51pm: In addition to being the favorites to land free agent linebacker Karlos Dansby, the Browns are also in pole position for safety Donte Whitner, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Cabot reports that Whitner is expected to ink a deal with the Browns today when free agency opens, replacing T.J. Ward, who figures to sign elsewhere.
Coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, Whitner was one of the league’s best safeties in pass coverage last season, limiting yards after the catch and grabbing a pair of interceptions. At age 28, the longtime Bill and 49ers should have plenty of productive years left in him, and represents the best possible free agent replacement if the Browns had to lose Ward.
As we noted yesterday, the Browns, Bears, and Jets were in the mix for Whitner, and it was the Browns that sounded the most serious about landing the Cleveland native. Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported earlier today that there was a lot of talk about Whitner joining new Browns head coach Mike Pettine in Cleveland.