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Whitner deal leaves 2-3 'home-grown'

Bills free agent Donte Whitner announced his own landing spot -- Cincinnati -- but then reversed field and signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers today. The Niners came in with a better offer at the last minute, just after it appeared Whitner agreed to terms with the Bengals.

The departure of Whitner from Buffalo has been a virtual foregone conclusion since last December. Nevertheless, the fact he will not be on the Bills' roster leaves Buffalo with only two or three "home-grown" first-round picks. Marcell Dareus, the 2011 first-rounder, is starting at defensive end. Eric Wood, a first-rounder in 2009, is starting at center. The 2008 first-rounder, Leodis McKelvin, is battling for a starting position at cornerback.

Whitner gave the Bills solid play in his five seasons in Buffalo. The problem was former General Manager Marv Levy was thinking more than "solid" when he drafted Whitner eighth overall in 2006. Whitner played 97 percent of the defensive snaps last season. He made 467 tackles in five years. He played in coverage underneath and threw his body around in the box. Big-impact plays weren't frequent from him. In five years he had five interceptions, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 1.5 sacks.

---Mark Gaughan

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