Whitner attracts attention from hometown Browns

Whitner attracts attention from hometown Browns
March 10, 2014, 11:00 am
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While the 49ers are interested in bringing Donte Whitner back, the veteran safety is reportedly being courted by the Browns, Jets and Bears as well. (USATSI)

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On the eve of free agency, Cleveland native Donte Whitner is being seriously courted by his hometown team.

The Cleveland Browns are reportedly “very serious” about signing Whitner, who would replace free-agent-to-be T.J. Ward.

Whitner, the 49ers’ starting strong safety each of the past three seasons, has also received interest during the three-day “legal tampering” period from Chicago and the New York Jets, a source close to Whitner told cleveland.com.

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The 49ers have also expressed an interest in retaining Whitner, a hard-hitting enforcer in the secondary who also helped assimilate rookie Eric Reid into the lineup last season.

"Donte would love to come back and play for his hometown team,'' the source told cleveland.com. "It would mean a lot to him and to his family. It would be a dream come true for him.''