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.