Boro continue to be linked with Whitehead following his release after four years from Stoke City.
He previously enjoyed a successful partnership with current Riverside schemer Leadbitter at Sunderland.
Tony McMahon: "Dean's a hardworking central midfielder who has a good engine, he really covers a lot of ground.
"I've played against him and Grant when they were playing for Sunderland and I was with Boro, they were tough opponents.
"He's spent a lot of his career in the top flight and you don't play that many Premier League games if you're not a decent player.
"He'd be a great signing."