Sunday, April 3, 2016

Strange timing

Given the timing of Donte Whitner’s release by the Browns Saturday, one should give thought to the notion the Browns’ new front office has no idea what it is doing.

It was nearly a month ago that the new guys allowed four core players to slip away in free agency in one day with three or four more following mere days apart. Okay, questionable judgment at best.

Just when it appeared as though the migration away from Berea had stopped, bam, there goes Whitner.

This is not meant as a major quarrel to that move, but what took them so long to make it? After all, Whitner is a local guy who was thrilled to return to his hometown and was a positive influence.

Even though he was with the Browns for only two seasons, he did not deserve this treatment.

Never bad-mouthed the organization. Through his quotes, he almost always looked at the bright side despite playing on a defense that did not deserve such an approach.

So why did it take Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta this long to cut the cord? Why did it take nearly a month to discover that, hey, we don’t really need this guy on the roster? Did they sit around all this time debating his value?

Whitner wondered the same thing. “I just wish they had the common courtesy and would’ve done it weeks ago when free agency was going on,” he said in a series of tweets Saturday. “. . . #25thHour . . . But I’ll bounce back.”

Then this little dagger. “My plan is in a different place. They’re playing MONEYBALL now!” A distinct reference to DePodesta, whose rise to baseball fame as an executive is tethered to the book and movie of the same name.

The timing of this transaction is odd. The explanation is odder.

“It is important for us to thank Donte for all his contributions to the Cleveland Browns over the last two years,” said Brown, the club’s chief spokesman in all matters football related.

“His passion for this city and dedication to his craft is contagious. These are difficult decisions to make, but we felt it was the best decision for the Browns at this time. We wish him the best as he continues his career.”

Spoken like a true attorney. Mere words. No reasoning behind the thoughts, at least those that prompted the move and he chose not to share.

Was Whitner a bad strong safety? No. He was good enough to earn Pro Bowl honors in his first season with the Browns. One of the best tacklers on the team? Yep. Too old at 30? Not really. He still has at least a couple of good years left.

Maybe it was the fact Whitner had trouble in pass coverage. Can’t argue that. But then again, the entire secondary had trouble in pass coverage last season. Why? No pass rush.

So let us beat this dead horse one more time. Why now? That’s a question that unfortunately will never be answered.

So now the Browns have cut both of their starting safeties, arguably their two best special teamers, two of their best offensive linemen and their two starting inside linebackers.

Looks as though it is the Browns’ intention to become the youngest team in the National Football League.

New coach Hue Jackson argues the Browns are not rebuilding. They are building, he claims. Anyway you shake it out, it is nothing more than a matter of semantics. Building, rebuilding, what difference does it make?

The Browns we see next season will, for a the most part, look nothing like the 3-13 team fans were forced to witness last season. The culture is definitely changing.

So is that a bad thing? We’ll find out. With this front office, there are definitely no certainties.

Right now, it is impossible to figure out what the end game is with these guys. We should know a lot more following the college draft later this month.

One thing is certain: The 2016 Browns will be one of the youngest – and probably one of the least experienced – teams in the NFL. And that usually portends more doom and gloom. As if fans of the team didn’t already know how that feels.


  1. Why is it that you feel the Browns owe you a detailed explanation of everything they do? I don't think Apple sends you a letter detailing the exact reasons each time they introduce a new I-Phone. Also, I don't think players leaving for inflated salaries during free agency can exactly be defined as being "cut".

  2. Because that's what I do here. It's not a matter of owing me or anyone, for that matter, an explanation. They make moves, I render my opinions. It's really that simple. You either agree or disagree. In this case, you obviously disagree. C'est la vie.

  3. Hey Rich, you did clearly disparage Sashi Brown for not providing a more substantive explanation. That's shooting fish in a barrel. It seems he's too classy to note that Whitner's play clearly declined last season and that he's not worth his $6.2 million salary for 2016. It's the obvious truth for all but the willfully obtuse. Perhaps the timing of Whitner's release could have been better from standpoint of the player's financial interest, but I'm not going to begrudge the Browns for operating on their own schedule after paying the man $15.5 million over the last two seasons. Maybe they wanted to see how the first wave of free agency shook out, or to confirm whether the remaining safeties were healthy, or to gather more intel on the draft prospects, or whatever. It's not a shocking move in any respect, nor should it be seen as a personal affront.

  4. Hi Ace. Welcome aboard. I look forward to the many times we will disagree. That said . . .

    Disparage Sashi Brown? Really? If that's what you believe, I'm certain he's got big enough shoulders to handle it. That's if he reads this blog, which I don't think he'll waste his time on.

    And yes, Whitner's play declined in part because the rest of the defense was awful. He was never a cover guy, anyway. Willfully obtuse? Your vocabulary is getting better.

    At least we agree on the timing of his release. That was the main tenor of the piece. Why wait? Why twiddle thumbs? Why not let him go when the others were allowed to bolt? Kinda makes you go hmmmm.

    And it was Whitner who seemed to take it as a personal affront.

    I'm guessing you see good times ahead. Not sure when. Unless I badly miss my guess, the upcoming season will be long and frustrating. All, I guess, in the name of building for the future.

    Another guess: You like the direction in which the Browns are headed. Enjoy the journey.

    Again, welcome aboard.

  5. I'm not worried about Sashi's feelings either; unclear why you pivoted there. I was responding to the way you answered the first commenter. Your quote above ("Spoken like a true attorney. Mere words. No reasoning ...") is disparaging by any dictionary definition.

    I'm also unclear whether your comment on my vocabulary stems from an informed opinion of my writing over the years (now located at or whether you're just playing the part of condescending prick.

    We'll have to leave my Browns outlook for another time. Kinda like that Facebook relationship status: It's complicated.

  6. Condescending prick. Guilty as charged. Weak attempt at humor. Have to work on that.