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.
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