The soon-to-be 31-year-old former Cleveland Browns safety Donte Whitner is still a free agent in early July and one has to start wondering if his price tag will have fallen into a range that might be more palatable to the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have already added one free agent safety in Dwight Lowery, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Lowery signing was intended to fill the hole that was created when general manager Tom Telesco elected to let five-time All Pro Eric Weddle leave after the parties failed to come to terms on an extension. The drop in talent is substantial, but the Chargers have to be hopeful that the difference can be made up with better health and "chemistry."
Signing a player of Whitner's ability to replace Jahleel Addae would potentially push the talent level of San Diego's safeties back in the right direction. Whitner is well thought of by the likes of Pro Football Focus, though other watchers of film draw less rosy conclusions regarding his ability. The Chargers clearly have a higher opinion of Addae than most. At least, their actions suggest a higher opinion. They have consistently given him the lion's share of snaps in both the base and substitution package defenses. And they also slapped the 2nd round tender on him as a restricted free agent this offseason.
Whitner would be a clear upgrade to the starting strong safety position and the overall depth of the safety position, but unless his asking price (in both dollars and years) has dropped substantially, he probably isn't worth the trouble for the Chargers. If he's looking for a one-year deal to rebuild some of his lost value (a chunk of which was taken from him when the Browns cut him late in free agency) then perhaps Telesco could work some of his "coupon god" magic.