CLEVELAND – With wads of money to spend, the Cleveland Browns didn’t waste any time shoving millions into two defensive holes they created this winter.
During the furious first few hours of free agency Tuesday, the team agreed to terms with strong safety Donte Whitner, a Cleveland native who can’t wait to play in his hometown.
I must now embark on my intended journey and become a Cleveland Brown, Whitner wrote on his Twitter account. A place that’s very dear to my heart!
Also, the Browns reportedly struck a deal with inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who resurrected his career last season in his second stint with Arizona.
The team has not made any announcements.
With $49 million of space under the salary cap to sign players, new Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer addressed two pressing needs after the club decided not to re-sign safety T.J. Ward or linebacker D’Qwell Jackson – the Browns’ top tacklers last season and two of their best players.
Whitner’s deal is reportedly worth $28 million over four years, and Dansby’s is for $24 million – $14 million guaranteed – over four years.
The Browns didn’t ignore their offense on the first day of free agency, signing Cincinnati wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. The Bengals have five days to match the contract or Hawkins will join the Browns, who need a replacement at slot receiver after releasing troubled veteran Davone Bess.
Whitner is returning to Cleveland to help turn around a franchise he pulled for as a kid. As word of his signing leaked out shortly after 4 p.m., Whitner tweeted O-H in a nod to both his alma mater and home state.