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Cleveland Browns position rundown: Safety

A position by position rundown of the Cleveland Browns as the offseason heads toward the combine and free agency:

SAFETY

Under contract: Donte Whitner, Jordan Poyer, Johnson Bademosi,

Free agents: Jim Leonhard (retiring), Tashaun Gipson (restricted).

The good: Gipson is one of the bright young players in the league. He has great center-field instincts, and is able to turn the ball over. Gipson also plays a physical free safety. He’s a guy the Browns should keep for a long time. Whitner gave the team what it expected: Smarts, a physical presence and veteran leadership. He played well, made the Pro Bowl as an alternate and should be able to team with Gipson as an effective duo for the next couple years. In Bademosi, the Browns feel they have a Pro Bowl special teams player.

The bad: Leonhard was a late addition by Mike Pettine, and thank goodness he was. He bailed out the defense by stepping in for the final five games while Gipson was hurt. He solidified the back end, and provided smarts and savvy from years in the defense. What’s bad about that? Leonhard is retiring and must be replaced.

The money: Gipson is a restricted free agent, and the Browns should tie him up with a high tender that will discourage teams from making him an offer. As the Browns learned with Alex Mack, they should deal with their free agents and good players on their terms, not another team’s.

Free agency need: For depth.

Draft priority: Again, for depth.