It’s palpable to anyone with a Twitter handler that Buffalo Bills safety Donte Whitner’s days as a Buffalo Bill are numbered. Whether he was sarcastically congratulating recent draft picks or bantering back and forth via malicious exchanges with angry Bills fans (including Whitner using the famous “your mother” line to one), Whitner has gotten to the point of being more a public relations nightmare should he return for another season. If you’re bent on seeing everything he’s said recently, help yourself to his Twitter— I’d list specific examples but he long ago blocked me from his page.
While what he or hostile fans verbalize in the social network universe carries little weight to his Buffalo future, what comes from the mouth of general manager Buddy Nix certainly does.
According to Nix himself, Whitner’s time in Buffalo is all but done.
“Donte Whitner, I don’t think he wants to be here… and he probably won’t.” Nix told WEDG-FM on Monday.
It’s pretty telling of Nix to declare that publicly. Although Whitner is technically a free agent for the moment, it’s highly likely that when or if free agency begins, the league will revert back to 2010 rules. In that scenario Whitner will drop from being unrestricted to restricted because he has five years of service and 2010 rules state six are necessary to be able to switch teams freely and without consequence.
The Bills already tendered Whitner in advance of the February 18 deadline. That means Buffalo would have the right to match any offer another team made for or receive draft compensation in return if they don’t. While terms of the tender weren’t reported, someone I spoke to with knowledge said the tender equates to a first round draft choice. Quite obviously, no team in their right mind will give Whitner a mega-dollars deal and forfeit potentially a first-round draft choice.
That leads you to think Whitner will be back for 2011, right? Not so fast.
Sources I’ve spoke to say there’s no chance Whitner returns to Buffalo regardless of what his free agent status ends up being. I’m told unequivocally the organization has no interest in players that don’t want to be here. It’s likely Nix will work some kind of sign-and-trade with another team and if that doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his tender revoked and be outright released as a final alternative.
No matter how it’s done, Whitner’s time in Buffalo will be over before the 2011 season begins.
This will end a five-year undistinguished Buffalo career that saw the organization take a chance on him with the eighth overall pick in the 2006 draft. While Whitner will hardly be labeled a bust his five-interception, two-sack, three-forced fumble career will go down as apathetic.
Unfortunately for Buffalo he’ll probably be best known as the player that publicly guaranteed the Bills would make the playoffs in 2008, only to go out and back up his words with zero interceptions in 13 games as Buffalo became the first team ever to start a season 4-0 and finish last in their division.
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