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Dealing Whitner would help Bills in rebuilding effort

Acquiring extra pick could help Buffalo land a QB in the draft. Matt Bowen

Print This March 17, 2010, 12:00 PM EST

Bills safety Donte Whitner has been mentioned in possible trade scenarios this offseason, and if Buffalo does intend on making a move, it would have to happen over the next few weeks leading up to the draft — when the former first-round pick’s value would be at its peak.

Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News had a chance to ask Chan Gailey about the idea of moving Whitner, which the new head coach denied, saying, “We feel like we've got a strong secondary. Donte's a big part of that and is going to be a big part of that. To me you would not weaken one of your strengths. I don't know where that came from.”

At this point of the offseason, it is hard for any of us to buy what coaches are saying to the media. And although Gailey has a point about his secondary, the Bills have so many other needs on this roster with a new coaching staff that they should explore some options with Whitner.

This secondary has depth at the safety position with Jarius Byrd, who had nine interceptions in ’09, Bryan Scott and George Wilson — two starters in Byrd and Scott, plus a swingman in Wilson if Whitner is out of the mix.

The former Ohio State standout didn’t become the playmaker the Bills had hoped when they drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2006, and his numbers — four career interceptions — show that. But, from my perspective, he was a victim of playing strong safety for the majority of his time in Buffalo under former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s Cover 2 scheme.

There are plenty of players who can move into the strong safety role in this system. It isn’t glorious and often times it isn’t a playmaking role. How the strong safety performs doesn’t always show up in the box score, but Whitner does have the talent to play free safety and that should draw some interest.

He has range, can close on the football and can come downhill from the middle of the field and break on the throw. I like his ability to tackle in the open field, and he should produce playing in a pressure scheme where he can make plays from the free safety position.

I would think the Bills could get a middle-round pick for Whitner, and if they are going to make a draft day move to slide up and grab a rookie QB — or make a play for a veteran — he could end up being part of the deal.

The point here is simple: Whitner gives the Bills options on the trade market. And, when you have other needs on your roster, there is no reason to keep extra talent at one position.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41


Add a Comment
Mr. Murder
Mar 17, 2010
12:55 PM

He's worth more than that. If Whitner played a faster surface you should really see more upside.

Mar 17, 2010
12:58 PM

Matt, the Bears desperately need a ball hawking FS. They have mid round picks. I figure they'll use the third rounder on what's better on the board at the time - a FS or an OL. If you were the Bears, could you trade your 3 pick for Whitner?

Full disclosure - I bleed scarlet and gray.

Mar 17, 2010
01:36 PM

Bills need a QB. Redskins need a FS, plus some mid to lower picks.

Campbell for Whitner plus a pick?

Mar 17, 2010
02:24 PM

Skins just picked up Rex Grossman, which makes me wonder what's going on with Campbell and what they will do in the draft.

karl hungus
Mar 17, 2010
02:27 PM

He would look nice in a Jets uniform for a 4th or 5th rounder..........

Matt Bowen
Mar 17, 2010
02:30 PM
Matt Bowen


The value for Whitner is going to based on what teams think he can do in their system if they move him to FS. Not a lot of production to base it off of right now.

And, yes, he would fit in Lovie's scheme in Chicago if they played him at FS.... lots of guys in this league who can line up at SS and make tackles, take on blocks, and create piles. FS is where the money players are.

Tom Cousins
Mar 17, 2010
03:18 PM

Hi Matt ...
To echo what Gailey said, "To me you would not weaken one of your strengths." ... Reading between the lines, it better be a good offer!

Whitner is versatile player and a strong one at that ... so I agree that he could be moved in a package for the right deal. He may fit the need in Chicago, but look to Phili where they NEED a FS ... and the Bills sort of need a QB.

That's the match that can light the fire of excitement under both teams.

Mar 17, 2010
03:36 PM

Bills and Chiefs could swap first round picks, and send Whitner and a 3rd round pick could come to KC if Clausen or Bradford is available at 5. Then the Chiefs could take Dan Williams at #9 and sign Kirk Morrison to an offer sheet the Raiders won't match and send either of the 3rd round picks to Oakland.

Alright, little too deep?

Mar 17, 2010
09:42 PM

Whitner's not big enough in the box (nicked up in 08 and 09) and he doesn't display the instincts for the FS position. Buffalo lined him up at the nickel spot. Seems versatile, not a master of either position. Still rue the day he was selected over Ngata, Bunkley, et al.

Mar 23, 2010
04:37 PM

Dump him and all the other overated Big 10 busts this joke of a scouting dept has acuired over the past few years. Get what you can and start from scratch.

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