Free-agent safety options for Browns

July, 12, 2011
7/12/11
1:00
PM ET
The are a few things you can guarantee in the AFC North in what should be a wild summer of free agency. One is that the Cleveland Browns will be searching for a starting-caliber safety.

Fortunately for Cleveland, safety is one of the deepest positions this year in free agency. There will be several good players looking for jobs and the Browns have money to spend.

Here is a free-agent preview for safeties:

Quintin Mikell, 30, Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis: Mikell is not a game-changing safety but could be the type of solid player the Browns are looking for. Mikell isn't great at any one thing but sound at everything. He's a solid tackler and solid in coverage. That fits well with second-year safety T.J. Ward, who is a big hitter. There are also a lot of ties with Mikell and the Browns. Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert, who held the same role in Philadelphia, is very familiar Mikell. And new Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron worked with Mikell last year as defensive backs coach of the Eagles.

Chances for the Browns: Good

Donte Whitner, 25, Buffalo Bills

Analysis: Whitner is a Cleveland native and also played for Jauron for four years (2006-2009) when Jauron was head coach of the Bills. Whitner is an aggressive safety who makes a lot of tackles. Last year he was second on the Bills with 140 tackles. But Whitner is not great in coverage and, thus, very similar to Ward. Pairing them together would make the Browns extremely physical but defending the deep pass could be an issue. Still, Whitner is a significant upgrade over what the Browns currently have at the position.

Chances for the Browns: Good

Eric Weddle, 26, San Diego Chargers

Analysis: Weddle is one of the better cover safeties in free agency, which is something the Browns are looking for. But Weddle will get plenty of interest around the league, and the Browns will not be front-runners for his services. Don't expect this one to happen.

Chances for the Browns: Average

Michael Huff, 28, Oakland Raiders

Analysis: A former No. 7 overall pick, Huff has mostly underachieved in Oakland. Huff had a solid contract year in 2010 but hasn't been the game-changing safety many expected. Huff is talented, and perhaps with better coaching and a fresh start he can be more consistent. Huff has been linked to several teams, including the Houston Texans, but there is no indication he would be interested in Cleveland or vice versa.

Chances for the Browns: Below average

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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