The Arizona Cardinals will reportedly meet with linebacker and former Pittsburgh Steeler and Miami Dolphin, Joey Porter. The report was made 72 hours after the team lost inside linebacker Karlos Dansby via free agency.
Porter will be 33-years old once the season begins but has 26.5 sacks in the last two seasons and still has enough gas left in the tank to provide a productive pass rush.
The question, is whether or not he'd be worth the signing. He's clearly at the tail-end of his career and past his prime, and he could become a distraction - just as he's been in the past with previous teams.
Considering the Cardinals have already lost linebackers in Dansby, Bertrand Berry(retirement), and Chike Okeafor(free agent), bringing in Joey Porter seems like a no-brainer. He's a veteran, and he's proven himself in this league. He's also been under the coaching of Ken Whisenhunt before - when he was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh during their Super Bowl run of 2005.
In fact, Whisenhunt and linebacker Clark Haggans - another former Steeler- have already met with Porter this past weekend to most-likely discuss coming to Arizona.
But then there's the mouth.
Porter has never shied away from publicly stating how he felt about himself, his team, or opponents. Is this necessarily a bad thing? The Cardinals already have a designated public speaker in Darnell Dockett - who in fact, gladly accepted the idea of Porter becoming a Cardinal.
"I NOW HAVE A KOOL AID SMILE JOEY PORTER IS VISITING AZ THURSDAY, BIRD GANG WILL BE BACK IN THE MIX. ..FTW… We’re going to get stronger. LOL!"
Both have also been voted as "dirty" players in separate polls consisting of current NFL players. Porter was voted as the 2nd dirtiest player among peers by Sports Illustrated, while a poll by Sporting News had Dockett ranked as the 5th dirtiest NFL player. Porter would bring a "nastiness" to the team that would fire up both the players and the fans - and would likely add more fuel to the 49er-rivalry fire as well.
I wanted to dig a little deeper however, so I asked fellow SBNation writer over at www.phinsider.com - Matty I - to provide me with his thoughts on the former Dolphin. He was nice enough to even provide his strengths and weaknesses, which you can find below:
Strengths - At this stage of his career, Porter really only has one strength: getting to the quarterback. Even so, Joey has clearly lost a step from what he used to be. That's not to say he isn't any good. But he's not the elite pass rusher he once was despite being just one year removed from a 17.5 sack season. He's also still a vocal leader and it's clear his teammates love having him in their locker room and on their team. When he's into the game, the energy he can bring is still awesome and his ability to take over a game is still there. It just rarely comes out.
Weaknesses - I don't want this to come off as "sour grapes" by any means, but there are far more weaknesses than strengths at this stage. Porter is just not very good at all against the run. He also tends to completely disappear in games. In 2009, there were two games in which Porter started but didn't record anything in the stat sheet - not even a single tackle. The most publicized example of this was when Porter ran his mouth publicly before Miami's first meeting with the Patriots. He then promptly got shut out - and the Pats made sure everyone knew by posting Porter's stats, or lack thereof, on their video board towards the end of the game.
But that's only part of the problem with Porter. According to multiple newspaper reports, there were times over the past two seasons when Porter refused to come off the field, instead waving his replacement back to the bench - a direct slap in the face of the coaching staff, in my opinion. Porter was also suspended for a game in 2009. Tony Sparano didn't say anything other than it was a "coach's decision." Media reports indicated over the next few weeks that Porter was sent home from practice because he reportedly needed to rest an injury - only to be seen out that night socializing.
Summary - I think what it comes down to, if you want to sign Joey, is if you think his mouth and the potential drama is worth the on-field production he'll give you. At 33 years of age, I'm not so sure it is. He's a liability against the run and, though he can still get to the quarterback at times, he's far from a consistent pass rusher anymore. With that said, he's an easy guy to like when he's on your team - as long as Joey doesn't become the distraction that he sometimes becomes.
While it does worry me that the weaknesses outweigh the strengths, I do understand where he and other Dolphin fans are coming from. This past season didn't showcase Porter's strengths to the fullest and his character issues became an even bigger concern.
But let's focus on the fact that the Cardinals are in desperate need of a linebacker and someone of Porter's stature could fulfill that need. Let's also remember that he's familiar with coach Whisenhunt and there are several other Steeler-connections on the team. I believe that the Cardinals can sign him to a relatively cheap contract and the change of scenery would help as well. And let's face it, he'd likely assume the role Bertrand Berry left behind as a nickel rusher, so the lack of run-support from Porter wouldn't be a huge deal. Should the Cardinals sign Porter, what would be your reaction? Do you want Porter as a Cardinal or not?