Browns release Donte Whitner

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After the Browns released linebacker Karlos Dansby and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe in March, safety Donte Whitner said he wasn’t worried about getting released by the Browns as part of the team’s latest housecleaning and that he wanted “to win a championship in Cleveland myself.”

He won’t get a chance to follow through on that desire. The Browns released Whitner on Saturday in a move that did not sit well with the veteran.

Whitner thanked Cleveland in a tweet and referenced new exec Paul DePodesta’s baseball experience by saying his future would be in a different place because the Browns are “playing MONEYBALL now.” Whitner also took issue with the Browns’ timing.

Whitner was set to make $6.2 million in 2016 and matching that may be tough. He should find interest on the open market after a solid season in 2015, though, and joins Reggie Nelson as available veteran options a month into free agency.

The Browns save nearly $4 million under the cap, but take on $4.5 million in dead money as a result of the move. With Tashaun Gipson gone, the Browns will have different starters at both safety spots in 2016.

75 responses to “Browns release Donte Whitner

  1. Total reboot mode ..AGAIN ..Bangs head against wall . when they ever get it right ?

    i never have trusted bean counters .

  2. Looks like Cleveland wasn’t happy having the 2nd pick in this years draft…so they’re fighting to get the 1st in next year’s…

  3. The Brownies are always a circus act. The sadness factory
    at the mistake by the lake. Wouldn’t know a great player, if they actually tripped over them, or one accidentally fell in their lap. AKA also know last place in their career.

  4. .
    Seems personal to release him after the bulk of free agent dollars have been spent.

  5. John Dorsey on line one, Donte. You can replace Hussain Abdullah after he retired this week.

  6. His 2015 was far from “solid” but he was a team and city guy so it does suck that it happened this late in free agency.

    I won’t knee/jerk judge the move like most football fans since the draft hasn’t happened yet but it is pretty obvious the Browns goal is to develop their team for the long term and not buy one in which case it’s not who they get but if Haslam can keep his temper in check to let them develop.

  7. I don’t think I watched him play for a year or two but he would surely be an upgrade over whoever is starting next to Harrison Smith. Zim would make the most of him.

  8. I like the dude a lot and think they should have done him a solid by cutting him early if they knew he was going to be a cap casualty.

    That said, I don’t really agree with a lot of the commenters that think it’s in the team’s best interest to try really hard to win 3-4 games with no kind of plan. Or that a a really smart guy who played college football and has a lot of executive experience is a “bean counter.”

    FWIW, You actually need MORE bean counters in football than in baseball, because it’s a salary cap league. EVERY team has an analytics staff and “salary cap expert(s)” in the executive. It’s been necessary in the NFL since around 1993.

    Baseball has “budgets” but if you are the Yankees or the Dodgers you can carry $20/million a year players who do nothing. In the NFL you have to really scrutinize guys making 4-5 million and see if they fit within the cap. Then you have to anticipate losing guys 2-3 years down the road when their cap hits balloon.

  9. Tried to hold onto him, but couldn’t…….? That can’t be the reason given that they have nearly 40M in cap space even with the 13M in dead money…….This is one of those moves that makes you wonder, HMMMMM???

  10. My Browns won 3 games last year. Why does anyone except Gary Barnidge deserve to be saved? I love it, I’m tired of the Browns keeping players that are “so called good” when their record year in and year out proves otherwise.

  11. Probably balked at a pay cut. Ah well, the house cleaning continues. Expect Joe Thomas to be traded draft day. Haden’s unsavory contract and injury history make him unmovable this year but if he plays well,he’s gone next season. Building from scratch is alright. It’s not like the former roster was doing any good in the W department and they were collecting nice checks to boot.

  12. I don’t see this team winning a game next year at this point, they better have a good draft if they want people showing up to their games wearing orange and brown.

  13. This guy is a liability in the secondary, not an asset. Can’t cover and can’t run. Good guy, but that doesn’t win football games. Surprised they didn’t do it sooner, but no trade takers. Tells you all you need to know about the guy.

  14. Just like when they released hard hitting TJ Ward 2 years ago, Hitner will go somewhere and win SB!

  15. Whitner is so overrated. More hot air than speed.
    This move lets me have faith in the new Browns.

  16. Actually he provided more talk than action. An expanded ego can result in a hard fall.

  17. Clearly they are rebuilding. If they keep their coaching staff for several years this time, it might work.

  18. Need to adapt some long term thinking if you are a Browns fan. The simple metric that is being employed at headquarter is, “Does the player’s production on the field match their salary level?” If not, then cut them no matter if they don’t have a back plan in place.

    In a couple of years, all that dead cap money will be wiped from the slate and the Browns can compete again. Sometimes you need to step back before you can step forward but be careful, it could be like the Vikings where 55 years go by with NO CHAMPIONSHIPS.

  19. It seems the Browns are in a total rebuild…..they understand they need a few years, so why not take the pain in year one, develop your cap space for years 2 and 3 and draft stars …..same formula that Reggie used in Oakland and that team is ready to challenge Denver for the division title.

    Key for the Browns is they have got to hit on their draft picks, they has wasted so many picks its incredible.

    I would like to see them pick Ramsey at #2 but they will go QB.

  20. Agents should structure players contrcts so that they are due a roster bonus EARLY in the season. That way if they are cut, they have a chance at free agency. It’s much harder for a player to get a spot that pays well, if teams have filled their needs.

  21. Dante whiff Whitner was below average. He had luck stopped at the Goal line 2 years ago when the Browns were 7-6 and cost them the game. He is toast.

  22. Has always talked a much better game than he played. Was a liability in pass coverage. Hard to believe he was selected #8 overall by Marv Levy.

  23. Is it personal when a PLAYER smokes weed or takes dope right after the free agency period and/or the draft and winds up suspended for 3-4 games or an entire season?
    The TEAM is screwed b/c his salary counts against the cap yet he isn’t playing b/c HE likes weed/dope more than football and couldn’t care less if the consequences adversely affect his team.

    Somehow the media and fans ALWAYS view actions of owners/team management as being “personal” toward a player yet when a player does something against the team it is somehow the teams fault.

  24. I think this is a pretty lousy way for them to treat a Cleveland native. Why not cut him earlier instead of doing it now? It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. It makes me wonder if they are intentionally trying to alienate their fan base. I’m beginning to wonder if the Browns are ever going to turn this around because of their highly questionable decisions. They wasted three 1st round picks on QBs who were terrible (Quinn, Weeden, Johnny Dumbbell) which could have been used for productive players. They lost a lot of talent in free agency and it sure seems like they are planning on having the #1 pick next year (and every year thereafter).

    As Charles Barkley once said…”There’s a light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a train that’s coming.” That probably fits the Browns given their offseason moves so far. They may be lucky to win 2 games next year.

  25. The Browns needed drastic changes. While many of the players lost seem good on paper, none of them played nearly as well as they’re hyped up to be.

    I’m a Lions fan and there’s no reason to fault the Browns new staff for making the moves necessary to fundamentally change the team.

  26. I love how people fall in love with the names on the back of the jerseys even after they are past their prime. The niners moved on from “Hitner” two years ago for good reason… He’s old and not that effective anymore.

  27. This guy was a huge douche in buffalo so it makes sense cleveland embraced him with open arms. Surprised his back isnt broken by now, he leads with it on all his tackles

  28. We are a rudderless ship. Who are you going to replace him with? YOU JUST CUT HIM? We Cleveland fans have absolutely NO faith in Truck Stop Jimmy.

  29. jokecleveland says:
    Apr 3, 2016 4:43 AM
    Wow, what a sorry excuse for a football team….

    Signed, lions fan


    Pick on someone your own size…. Oh Wait.

  30. News flash Whitner, get over it, it’s a business and every man for himself. This dude’s best years were in Frisco and all he is now is a guy that’s good for a couple of highlight hits mixed in with some cheap shots and personal fouls. Don’t let the door hit you…etc

  31. chawk12thman says:
    Apr 3, 2016 12:57 AM

    Tried to hold onto him, but couldn’t…….? That can’t be the reason given that they have nearly 40M in cap space even with the 13M in dead money…….This is one of those moves that makes you wonder, HMMMMM???


    A. They asked him to take a pay cut and he said no

    B. They ran the numbers going into the draft and he immediately became expendable.

    C. A team just offered enough for Cleveland’s #2 pick to the point that a draft day trade would make him immediately replaceable.

    Plenty of reasons

  32. The move saves Cleveland $3.95 million, but leaves $4.5 million in dead money. Whitner is coming off a solid year, posting 81 tackles in 14 games and grading as PFF’s No. 24 safety.

    You shouldn’t be leaving more dead money than money saved. Even more so when they have a good ranking. Don’t sound too moneyball like to me.

  33. Don’t worry, Donte, the Cleveland Dog Piles will be the worst NFL team ever by adding the best NFL QB ever. You will be thankful you won’t be part of this disaster. By the end of the 2016 season, even a Pop Warner team could sack the Great Gimmick six times and put up 49 points while giving up no td’s.

  34. What the Browns are going to find out is that football teams can’t win by signing a bunch of players that excel in one category and meshing them together in hopes of making a team. Unlike baseball, motivation and chemistry play more of a dynamic and it is damned hard to nail that down. A guy like Whitner was a Brown who played hard and led other players. He will be missed.

  35. The analytics boys from the Cleveland Harvard Alumni Club are gashing and slashing the Browns roster. Looks like they are tanking this coming season before it even starts. I guess they want the number one draft pick in next years draft real bad. Joe Thomas and Joe Haden should pack their bags. One of them might be next to go via trade or outright release. Who knows what these Harvard boys are thinking.

  36. The Browns are cleaning their cap out immediately and they will replace those spots with people who fit their metrics. They are reimposing off the band aid.

  37. mrfrostyj says:
    Apr 2, 2016 11:20 PM

    His 2015 was far from “solid” but he was a team and city guy so it does suck that it happened this late in free agency.

    I won’t knee/jerk judge the move like most football fans since the draft hasn’t happened yet but it is pretty obvious the Browns goal is to develop their team for the long term and not buy one in which case it’s not who they get but if Haslam can keep his temper in check to let them develop.

    We’re football fans on the internet, we make judgements on what people in football power decide.

    So far, the Browns have decided to get rid many, if not most of the talented players on their roster. People forget the salary cap is 155.27 million. It’s been rising about 10 or so million a year the past three years I think.

    155.27 million/53 means if everyone made the same amount it would be about 2.93 million per year. So he wasn’t really overpaid.

    The Browns also aren’t in cap hell. There really wasn’t a competitive reason to cut him.

    They’ve decided to tank, and build up, and that could take 5-10 years.

    I think you got yourself confused about things. Deciding to not cut your players, and let tons of good ones go in free agency when you had the cap space to sign/keep most if not all of them, is not buying one.

    Buying a championship is when you go out year after year Redskins early Daniel Snyder ownership style.

    The Browns are doing the opposite, when free agency hits, they not only let their good core players go, but also cut a bunch of them too.

    It’s not binary, but compared to buying a championship they are doing the exact opposite. There is a middle ground.

    Every team uses analytics. Some for some good backup or eye opening situations. Many uses it like a moron. The moneyball people, they are full believers which puts them more on the moron side.

    They never won a world series with the A’s using this approach.

    Now with impatient Haslam as owner, they have gutted a 3 win roster of it’s talent when they have plenty of cap space.

    It’s going to take awhile for this regime to turn it around, if they even can, and if Haslam gives them the time to. Even if he does it might not matter.

    Right now the Browns are looking at the #1 overall pick in 2017.

    Whitner is just another example of purging a roster too much, when it’s not needed.

    You need SOME talent there to be competitive. People are supposed to buy season tickets and go to games. People are supposed to be interested enough to tune in on tv.

    RGIII is likely to be a complete bust. The OL is in shambles beside Thomas. You lost two decent receivers. You have cut many of your best defenders. There wasn’t much talent on a 3 win team to begin with.

    They also got rid of some of their best leaders. The world isn’t numbers, and can’t be perfectly defined by numbers. That’s why people who go by them too much often times don’t know the forest from the trees. Sometimes the smartest guys in the room, are actually functionally the dumbest.

    It’s sad. Browns fans deserve better.

  38. ehsguy72 says:
    Apr 3, 2016 12:37 PM

    News flash Whitner, get over it, it’s a business and every man for himself.

    Why should he get over it when the team cost him money? The business part is where teams get to play by their own rules of screw people over a lot more than they get screwed.

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