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Taking his time

Former Steelers LB Porter will let market develop

Posted: Friday March 2, 2007 4:15PM; Updated: Friday March 2, 2007 5:18PM
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Joey Porter had a team-best seven sacks and two interceptions in just 14 games for Pittsburgh last season.
Joey Porter had a team-best seven sacks and two interceptions in just 14 games for Pittsburgh last season.
Al Tielemans/SI

Though he belatedly joined this year's free-agent class -- upon being released by Pittsburgh in a Thursday afternoon salary cap move -- it didn't take Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter long to generate interest on the open market.

According to a source close to Porter, at least seven teams have made contact to inquire about the three-time Pro Bowl selection, and they read like a who's who of the NFL's 3-4 defensive formation stalwarts: New England, the Jets, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas, Cleveland and Miami.

Porter has yet to schedule any visits, and probably won't do so until early next week. Having somewhat unexpectedly been granted free agency, after the Steelers investigated trades involving him in recent days, Porter is content to let his market develop over the weekend, knowing that most NFL teams have not yet spent time breaking down his 2006 game films.

The market for Porter is also somewhat related to the one that has developed for Baltimore outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, one of the most sought-after prospects in this year's free-agent crop. The teams that are not successful in landing Thomas, who also fits the 3-4 linebacker mold, almost certainly will step up their pursuit of Porter. So, while New England, San Francisco and the Jets are considered the most aggressive suitors of Thomas, two of them will likely turn their attention quickly to Porter if the ex-Ravens star signs.

The Jets are known to be one of several teams that talked to the Steelers in recent days about a trade for Porter, and Cleveland head coach Romeo Crennel was quoted Thursday night expressing interest in his former division rival.

Interestingly, in a head-to-head comparison of Thomas and Porter, the ex-Steeler fares quite well. Both players will turn 30 this year, with Porter, a eight-year NFL veteran, reaching the milestone in March, and Thomas, a seven-year pro, in August. Porter owns 60 career sacks and three Pro Bowl berths, to Thomas' 38 1/2 and one all-star appearance, which came after his breakthrough 2006 season, when he totaled a career-best 11 sacks.

Unlike past years in free agency, the size of this year's salary cap ($109 million) is so large that teams are expected to have significant money to spend even after the usual mega-deals are struck in the opening three to five days of the NFL's annual personnel shopping spree. With that in mind, Porter's camp prefers to not "rush the market,'' believing that enough teams will have unmet needs and open coffers throughout next week.


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