Whenever the name Tracy Porter comes up among Who Dat Nation, various notions and images come to mind. On the negative, there are images of Porter being stiff-armed into Canada by Marshawn Lynch, as well as Porter not being able to tackle anyone for that matter. One of the more distressing images was of Porter not being on the field at all, due to numerous injuries.
On the positive, there are obviously the images of the Divine Interception™ against Brett Favre and especially Divine Interception: Championship Edition™ against Peyton Manning. Images burned into the collective memories of Who Dat Nation until the end of time. Most importantly, images of a player who has shown passion, intelligence, and class during his NFL career.
Here are Porter's career stats, courtesy of NFL.com:
|2011||New Orleans Saints||14||52||42||10||0.0||--||9||1||0||-7||-7.0||-7|
|2010||New Orleans Saints||12||60||45||15||0.0||--||6||1||0||5||5.0||5|
|2009||New Orleans Saints||12||57||48||9||0.0||0||12||4||1||72||18.0||54T|
|2008||New Orleans Saints||5||25||23||2||1.0||--||5||1||0||25||25.0||25|
All of his faults considered, Tracy Porter would be a good investment for the New Orleans Saints secondary. This does come with one very important caveat though, he would have to be signed at the league veteran minimum. If Porter would be willing to accept a hometown discount to return to a familiar situation, he would certainly be warmly welcomed back by the Saints organization and fanbase alike. In fact, he'll save thousands on food alone as he'll never have to pay for a meal in New Orleans after his Super Bowl heroics in '09.
The Saints clearly need depth at corner. With all of the needs on defense, especially considering the shift to the 3-4 scheme, the Saints shouldn't be looking at a corner in the top two thirds of their draft. Injuries and inconsistent play plagued the team last season and the Saints are going to have to sign somebody to provide cornerback depth this offseason. So why not Porter at the right price? Let's take a look at the production the Saints have had at corner outside of Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson.
|2012||New Orleans Saints||15||24||21||3||0.0||--||2||--||--||--||0.0||--|
|2011||New Orleans Saints||9||6||5||1||0.0||--||0||--||--||--||0.0||--|
|2012||New Orleans Saints||7||14||9||5||0.0||0||6||1||1||73||73.0||73T|
|2011||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||29||23||6||0.0||0||6||2||1||47||23.5||40T|
|2010||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||16||14||2||0.0||--||0||--||--||--||0.0||--|
|2009||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15||29||26||3||0.0||--||4||3||0||36||12.0||36|
|2008||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15||15||13||2||0.0||--||1||--||--||--||0.0||--|
In less games, Porter provided more production on average than Patrick or Mack in 2012. Of course, the Saints may make a move at safety this offseason and move Malcolm Jenkins back to corner, but Porter still deserves consideration. A veteran leader with organizational ties can be very valuable when injuries take their toll on a season. Look no further than the 2009 season for precedence.
In '09 the Saints re-signed former starting cornerback Mike McKenzie during the season. The Saints secondary was decimated by a string of injuries mid-season that year and McKenzie returned to the team after reaching out to Sean Payton himself. McKenzie's stats were by no means spectacular (11 tackles and 1 interception in 5 games), but his football IQ and veteran leadership proved invaluable during the tough mid-season stretch that saw the Saints remain undefeated through Week 14.
Porter, like McKenzie, has previously and likely will continue to battle injuries, but in a depth role at corner he could prove to be quite valuable. The poor tackling is bothersome but in exchange you get heart, smarts, and a good burst of speed for a veteran corner. That would be preferable over another "camp body" every single time. The Saints will need the depth at some point this season and Porter could provide more trust in a tough spot than just some guy.
It's been said "you can never go home again" and perhaps there's some truth to that. But for the right price, maybe Tracy Porter can.