Joey Porter (AP Photo)
While the Arizona Cardinals have lost several marquee players in free agency, the team has been actively pursuing capable replacements. Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter is the latest name that will be visiting the desert, a logical development given his ties to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Brad Wilbricht breaks down how Porter would fit in Arizona and the chances of a deal being finalized.
Since taking over as head coach for the Arizona Cardinals, Ken Whisenhunt has been searching for a pass-rushing linebacker to thrive in the 3-4 defense. With the defection of Karlos Dansby coupled with the losses of veterans Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor, the chances of Joey Porter making his way to the desert are increasing. Porter will travel to Arizona on Thursday, already having ties to both Cardinals coaches and players due to his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 2007, Porter headed south from Pittsburgh in favor of the Miami Dolphins. Following a disappointing initial season in South Beach, Porter notched a career-high 17.5 sacks in 2008. His production dropped in 2009, but Porter still managed to accumulate nine sacks in 14 games. Porter’s consistency has remained throughout his 11-year career as the four-time Pro Bowler has totaled over 600 tackles, 92 sacks along with 12 interceptions.
Although the Cardinals ranked sixth in the NFL with 43 sacks in 2009, they still lack a dominating pass-rusher from an individual standpoint. Furthermore, most of that pressure on opposing quarterbacks came from the defensive line. Sack production from the linebacker position was limited as Clark Haggans led Arizona’s linebackers with only five sacks on the year. Given the Cardinals’ transition to the 3-4 scheme, improving this aspect of team’s defense is a must.
While Porter has been a distraction at times in the locker room, his familiarity with Whisenhunt provides an enticing landing spot for the outspoken star. Porter would supply Arizona with a veteran presence and would certainly help heal the wounds of losing the likes of Dansby, Anquan Boldin and Antrel Rolle. The Cardinals recently acquired safety Kerry Rhodes to replace Rolle and Porter would help fill the voids left by both Dansby and Okeafor, particularly in pass-rushing situations.
Should Porter indeed sign with Arizona, his arrival along with the return of linebacker Cody Brown could push the Cardinals’ pass-rushing unit to even higher levels of success. Additionally, Porter’s experience would greatly benefit Brown and allow the second-year linebacker to make an easier transition after missing the entire 2009 campaign with a wrist injury.
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