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Whitner cost Browns a lot more than Ward cost Broncos

Ward Getty Images

The two biggest acquisitions made to date by the Cleveland Browns amount to an even-Steven swapping out of a safety and a linebacker for a safety and a linebacker.

And they paid plenty for the safety and the linebacker they signed, especially in comparison to the safety and linebacker they had.  In both cases, the Browns selected an older and more expensive option.

At safety, the Browns gave $13 million in fully-guaranteed money to Donte Whitner as part of a four-year, $28 million deal.  T.J. Ward, in contrast, signed for only $7 million fully guaranteed at signing, with another $6.5 million guaranteed for injury only until the 2015 league year.  The total value of Ward’s four-year deal is $22.5 million — $5.5 million less than Whitner’s contract.

At linebacker, the Browns dumped D’Qwell Jackson’s contract, which would have paid him $6.6 million in 2014.  They’re instead paying Karlos Dansby $10 million in 2014, part of a $12 million fully-guaranteed contract.  The 32-year-old’s deal averages $6 million per season through 2017.

While it was prudent for the cap-rich Browns to resist the temptation of going on a Day One overspending spree, some would say they’ve opted to dog-paddle by swapping Ward and Jackson for Whitner and Dansby.  The goal moving forward should be to do something other than mildly upgrade positions of strength, and to instead shop for bargains at positions of need.

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50 Responses to “Whitner cost Browns a lot more than Ward cost Broncos”
  1. jerruhjones says: Mar 14, 2014 8:54 AM

    The Browns ‘D’ couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down last year, or close out games.

    The Browns have now brought in guys who have won and knows what it feels like.

  2. stealthjunk says: Mar 14, 2014 8:56 AM

    Same could be said regarding the Pats losing Talib and signing Revis.

  3. mauldawg says: Mar 14, 2014 8:57 AM

    Sometimes you might over pay to improve your team. IMO Dansby and Whitner make the Browns a better team.

  4. kosarkid says: Mar 14, 2014 8:58 AM

    Whitmer is less injury prone, slightly more versatile, not that much older, and WANTS TO BE WITH THE BROWNS. I’d rather pay a guy that wants to be on my team who’s going to put his heart and soul into a team than pay a guy who doesn’t believe in the team.

  5. bizono says: Mar 14, 2014 8:58 AM

    Unless Dansby regresses greatly this season, he’ll be a significant upgrade over D’Qwell Jackson.

    Both Whitner and Jackson are upgrades in pass coverage (Ward is a better run stopper) over Ward and Jackson, and that is likely the thinking behind the moves.

  6. petezjunior says: Mar 14, 2014 9:00 AM

    Let’s be real here – it isn’t JUST about the GMs doing a poor job resigning players. It’s the fact that nobody wants to go to Cleveland because of its history.

  7. aurelh23 says: Mar 14, 2014 9:00 AM

    Horrible moves for the Browns!

    Jackson was a better LB and younger while TJ Ward was a better safety and younger as well (not as big a hitter but close!).

    Instead they overpaid for Dansby who’s 2 years older and Whitner who’s 28 vs 27 (ward).

    thats why theyre the brownS!

  8. slayisland says: Mar 14, 2014 9:00 AM

    The browns will continue to make head scratching decisions

  9. Kaz says: Mar 14, 2014 9:00 AM

    Browns got older and more expensive. Not a good start to free agency. Don’t forget the massive contract they gave to a 28 year old gadget player.

  10. seatownballers says: Mar 14, 2014 9:01 AM

    Ward wants a shot at a ring. Whitner got paid to play in his hometown. Cost of business in football

  11. seahawksbmx says: Mar 14, 2014 9:02 AM

    Maybe the Browns really need to hire Kevin Costner as their GM. If you don’t get the reference, you will soon.

  12. ravenswhat says: Mar 14, 2014 9:03 AM

    They should consider a name change to the Cleveland Derps.

  13. prohippietalk says: Mar 14, 2014 9:08 AM

    I much prefer Dansby and Whitner to DQ and Ward.

  14. barkymingo says: Mar 14, 2014 9:09 AM

    When I saw the details of Ward’s contract, I was completely confused why Cleveland didn’t keep him. If you want to rebrand your imagine and make players think that you’re building a winner, then reward the players you draft and develop into all pro players. TJ even publicly said he wanted to stay in Cleveland, he is buddies with Haden so I don’t get this move at all. Unless something went on behind the scenes and TJ asked to go to a winner, this move doesn’t make sense and angers me. Good start to the “new” regime.

  15. opneon says: Mar 14, 2014 9:11 AM

    Don’t worry Cleveland – it will all change at the end of the year anyway – THEN we’re going to build a good team with our next coach and GM!
    The last decade was just a warm-up drill.

  16. brownmud says: Mar 14, 2014 9:12 AM

    I was a fan of both Ward and DQ. However, the group of guys on the Browns are not used to winning. Sometimes you have to dump veterans that no nothing else but losing and bring in winners to help change the mentality in the facility. Did they upgrade the positions, probably not, but I don’t think they downgraded either.

    Go Browns!

  17. kcflake says: Mar 14, 2014 9:13 AM

    Not a fan of either the Browns or Broncos, Actually I hate the Broncos, but it seems like a dumb move on the Browns part. They already had a solid safety in Ward. Should have held onto him. He has better stats too.

  18. ballboy48 says: Mar 14, 2014 9:13 AM

    Whitner and Dansby are upgrades over TJ and DQ. DQ was a great leader and made many tackles, but struggles in coverage. He continuously got burned by TE’s, and TJ routinely had WR get over him in coverage down the field.

  19. rockthered1286 says: Mar 14, 2014 9:13 AM

    To be fair- how can Browns fans identify upgrades on their team? It’s extremely difficult for any player to excel in a different scheme under a different coordinator nearly every season. Once they get a system down and memorized they have to scratch it and start over with a new guy. And with that said? I don’t blame Ward, or any other player (cough cough Mack) for wanting to leave to pursue a shot at playing for a stable winning franchise. Will the Browns get back to winning? Maybe. Eventually. But for most of these players, they have not seen anything remotely close to stability and it’s hurting their stock/future contracts, which is enough to convince any player to move on. Their best shot is overpaying guys looking for their last big pay days- thus Whitner and Dansby.

  20. wwwmattcom says: Mar 14, 2014 9:16 AM

    Whitner will be a Browns hater by the end of his term

    He is a locker room poison.

  21. denver1983 says: Mar 14, 2014 9:19 AM

    Everyone wants to play for Broncos. Nobody wants to play for the Browns!

  22. realnflmaster says: Mar 14, 2014 9:20 AM

    Dansby is going to need a walker halfway through the season!

  23. Steeler's Didn't-but-Will-eventually says: Mar 14, 2014 9:26 AM

    The Browns need to make some changes and they have plenty of money. It’s not like they’re trying to buy a Super Bowl this year, they’re simply trying to field a competitive team.

  24. cunninghampeetemcnabbvick says: Mar 14, 2014 9:26 AM

    Because good players on good teams are worth a lot more than good players on bad teams.

  25. nickinneohio says: Mar 14, 2014 9:30 AM

    Whitner’s and Ward’s contracts are almost identical. First 2 years guaranteed. Ward actually is guaranteed .5M more. Whitner will never see the 5.5 more for the last 2 years. Most of these free agents are gone after their guarantee is up. Cap casualties they call them. Rub up the numbers as you wish though.

  26. nickinneohio says: Mar 14, 2014 9:33 AM

    …Plus Whitner is 18 mos. older then Ward. Hardly a difference unless in dog years.

  27. dcpowergator says: Mar 14, 2014 9:35 AM

    i am baffled by this “analysis”

    1. you yourself always tell us to look at guaranteed money not total contract value. taking your own advice would show you this:

    whitner $13M, ward $13.5
    dansby $12M, DQ $11M

    net difference 500k… in the BROWNS favor

    2. you can’t seriously think that dansby is not a massive upgrade to dqwell? dansby was one of the top ILBs in football last year (and previously) while DQ is your classic great guy, nice player who makes lots of tackles 6-7 yards down the field. i think pro football focus had him as the 2nd or 3rd worst regular ILB in their ratings last year.

    those of us not predisposed to hating the Browns could reasonably draw a much different conclusion.

    the Browns SAVED $500k guaranteed money while trading for (a) a 2 time pro bowl safety who is only 16 months older than the player he replaced who has a history of injury concerns and terrible pass coverage and (b) an impact ILB that is less than two years older than the stalwart, stand-up locker room guy who, despite that, was a merely serviceable player.

  28. bleedorange59 says: Mar 14, 2014 9:38 AM

    I’d rather have Dansby and Whitner here. A lot of you don’t seem to be able to comprehend the value of what they’l bring to the locker room in leadership, nor on the field, playing tough til the end. We’re way better on 3rd down. Q 52 and TJ will both be better where they are now than they would’v been here. And all the guys on our defense are going to be better, faster, because of what Whitner and Dansby bring to to table. Furthermore, watch Farmer draft Whitner’s and Dansby’s replacements this year, giving them 2 years to learn the right way to get it done. Go Browns.

  29. ljl2 says: Mar 14, 2014 9:49 AM

    Does the fact that the browns are changing their defensive system/schemes matter? Whitner/Dansby are different types of players than Ward/Jackson. Not sure how they play this year, but it has appeared browns are not letting the player dictate what they do but the system of their coach.

  30. kosarkid says: Mar 14, 2014 9:51 AM

    This article is more Browns bashing at its finest. Remember when everyone laughed at us when the Browns traded TRICH. Remember when we were mocked for firing Lombardi and Banner. People love kicking the dawg pound when it’s down. But just like the aforementioned moves, I think this will be a good situation for the Brownies. DQ, while underrated isn’t as good as Dansby. And Whitmer is better than Ward in coverage and is also a hard hitter. With a better LB group, the Browns won’t need their safety to be a factor in stopping the run anyway. If we draft Mack with the #4 pick I wouldn’t be too mad. There’s plenty of WR’s in this years draft and no QB this year warrants a #4 pick.

  31. dcapettini says: Mar 14, 2014 9:53 AM

    Browns get back to winning? They have never won much. The last time the Cleveland Browns were winners, they wilted and the team moved to Baltimore.

  32. senoreno says: Mar 14, 2014 9:59 AM

    Sort of scratching my head…Really Browns? Whitner leaves a whole lot to be desired in coverage. You’ll see. He’s hard hitting to get me wrong and likes to stick his nose in the run, but coverage wise…he will get burned. Niner fans are kind of glad to be unloading him. Jackson is a stud in this league, while Dansby is Wile vet. These are the type of moves that keep the browns from getting better.

  33. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 14, 2014 10:09 AM

    I like Ward’s game and mentality better.

  34. slash714 says: Mar 14, 2014 10:15 AM

    Love what the browns are doing!

  35. bruceroy1 says: Mar 14, 2014 10:19 AM

    You don’t need to scratch your head to know the Browns will be in the AFC north basement again. LMAO!

  36. audient says: Mar 14, 2014 10:25 AM

    >Remember when we were mocked for firing Lombardi and Banner.

    Don’t forget we were mocked for not firing them too. Until we fired them. Then we were mocked for that.

    Winning solves everything though. And the solution is closer at hand today than it was a week ago.

    GO BROWNS!

  37. bruceroy1 says: Mar 14, 2014 10:25 AM

    20 starting quarterbacks in less than 20 seasons and they think they need to upgrade the defense! unbelieviable numbskulls!

  38. loyalraven says: Mar 14, 2014 10:32 AM

    No wonder LeBron left, I’d be embarrassed of Cleveland too. They’re the joke that never ends. Maybe if they had real fans they wouldn’t be such a horrible franchise

  39. bengalguy says: Mar 14, 2014 10:36 AM

    …….thats why their the Browns!

  40. bnn52 says: Mar 14, 2014 10:43 AM

    As a Cleveland fan, it was hard to see TJ and DQ go, they were leaders both on and off the field and our leading tacklers from the last couple years, however Jackson made the majority of his tackles 5+yards downfield and neither one of them was good in coverage. While Dansby is older than DQ, he brings us a more well rounded MLB who can do it all, stop the run, rush the qb and cover a TE or RB.

    Whitner is a homegrown guy who WANTED to come back to Cleveland to be closer to his kids and help turn around the team. Plus he is only a year older than TJ and has experience winning, both in college with OSU and with SanFran. He is bigger and more physical than TJ and less likely to miss multiple games per year.

    I wish both TJ and DQ well as they were two of my favorite players during their tenure with the Browns.

    Before ya’ll start bashing the moves the Browns made so far, lets actually wait until after the draft and after camp starts, you never know what changes can come, look at KC from last year.

    Go Browns!

  41. kg270209 says: Mar 14, 2014 11:22 AM

    It is stupid to compare what we paid our signees to what the guys we lost made elsewhere. Ward would have cost more to keep than what he signed for in Denver. That is the point you’re missing. What he signed for doesn’t have any say on what we would have owed to re-sign Ward. Comparing Whitner to Ward in that sense is unitelligent.

  42. torpedo8 says: Mar 14, 2014 11:25 AM

    Going simply by age and price is a rather simple-minded approach to this game. Did you work for Banner?

    PFF indicated that receivers covered by Ward caught one of every 9 balls thrown to them. Granted, he was/is a great run-stopper. But Whitner’s receivers caught only one of every 30 balls thrown to them. And he also covers the run decently. UPGRADE.

    If you know anything about the Browns last season, they couldn’t stop another team at 3rd down. Almost never. And the route to another 1st down for the opposition was through the air.

    Dansby is 2 years older but has a higher motor. Our ILB was our weak point on defense last year. Frankly, I think the only reason they re-signed Robertson was because they knew they were cutting Jackson. PFF had Jackson as -11.6 and Dansby at +13.3 UPGRADE.

    Which part of this don’t you understand?

  43. believeland1954 says: Mar 14, 2014 2:06 PM

    My sources tell me Cleveland made a better offer than Denver’s. He and his agent left it on the table. Let’s face it, Ward wanted out as does Mack. Good luck to him in Denver and welcome Donte to Believeland.

  44. rushbacker says: Mar 14, 2014 2:13 PM

    New boss. . . same as the old boss.

  45. cadan24 says: Mar 14, 2014 3:18 PM

    as a 49ers fan…good luck to Whitner…real solid player in run and pass coverage, great to watch the big hits…solid in the locker room and with the fans and media…will frustrate you with a few personal fouls but other than that we are gonna miss em in the bay!

  46. christophershearin says: Mar 14, 2014 3:49 PM

    genius, spend more money on worn out goods…. the mark of a winning franchise……… FML

  47. tonybot3 says: Mar 14, 2014 8:06 PM

    This says more about Ward than about Cleveland…. Its HIS screw-up, not theirs.

  48. realkelevra says: Mar 14, 2014 8:09 PM

    All The Browns Fans Comments Are Perfect Examples Why They Are Some Of The Most Educated And Best Fans In The League.

  49. jimmyjames65 says: Mar 16, 2014 10:45 PM

    Coming from a Ravens fan. Sounds like they upgraded without really footing the bill. I expect them to be a tough beat this coming season. After releasing Weeden and Campbell, they must feel they have an answer at QB. I think Elway got suckered paying Talib and Ware all that money.

  50. jimmyjames65 says: Mar 16, 2014 10:51 PM

    Get ready for Steve Smith – Aquib Talib part two in the playoffs.

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