Porter, Dolphins reach agreement
Share with others:
One of Joey Porter's closest friends with the Steelers sees the veteran linebacker's surprisingly hefty contract with Miami as a victory for all sides -- not only for Porter and the Dolphins, but for the Steelers as well.
Larry Foote said he was happy Porter found a new home and new riches in Miami.
"It's a win-win," said Foote, a starting inside linebacker the past three seasons. "The Steelers wanted to go another route, and Joey got more money."
He got a ton more money than the $5 million he was to earn with the Steelers this season. Porter agreed to a five-year, $32 million contract with the Dolphins that will pay him a reported $12 million signing bonus and another $8 million in guaranteed money. His signing bonus is $3 million more than the Steelers have paid a player.
The Steelers released Porter, who turns 30 March 22, because he made it plain to them he was not happy with the final year of his contract for 2007, wanted more in an extension and hinted he might hold out if he did not get it. They also felt he no longer was the explosive pass rusher whose 60 career sacks are fourth most in their history.
The Dolphins, obviously, believed otherwise. They expect to team Porter with Woodland Hills High School graduate Jason Taylor as outside linebackers in their 3-4 defense, the same alignment that featured Porter as the Steelers' right outside linebacker since 2000.
Foote said Miami gets more than statistics from Porter, the Steelers' defensive co-captain the past four seasons and three-time Pro Bowler.
"As a player and teammate, you never want to lose that type of guy," said Foote, who dressed next to Porter in the Steelers' locker room and considered him a mentor.
"When you get a guy like Joey Porter, you're not just paying for his services on the field, but his impact on the team and his influence. He never led us in the wrong direction. When you have a leader and a guy who has influence on a team, it can be negative or positive, but he was positive. He kept everyone together. He was a friend to everyone -- young and old, from practice squad players to superstars. He kept us all humble.
"I just say there's only one Joey Porter; no one can do what he does. That's what we're going to miss, we're going to miss that a lot."
Yet Foote said he recognizes the business side of the NFL, and that it's time to move on under new coach Mike Tomlin. He said the loss of Porter should cause no morale problems.
"You see it every year, guys make that big money," Foote said. "Look at Jamal Lewis. He was Baltimore's whole offense, and they got rid of him. We'll definitely miss Joey, but we're professionals. We're still competitive players.
"We'll be excited with the new coach. I talked to him briefly on the phone. I'm excited and getting ready for a new year. There are a lot of doubters out there against us. We'll just start fresh and show what we've got. We definitely want to make an impression on the new coach, from old players to new. I'm hearing all good things about him. He's a young guy, and that's always good."
Foote believes Porter's loss will be felt more in the locker room and as a leader on defense than as a player.
"I know James Harrison will replace him, and he can be just as productive on the field as Joey because he can flat-out play," Foote said. "I'm not really worried about that. It'll just be different not having him there. But, with a new coach, there's a lot more excitement, it's a fresh start. My juices are going already. I can't wait to get back, and a lot of other guys feel the same way."
Still, Foote believes the money Miami gave Porter is well spent.
"The impact he'll have on that team -- it won't take long to find out he's worth that money. He'll help their young guys and older guys."
Foote could pick no one player who can provide the intangibles Porter brought to the Steelers.
"Collectively, we have to do it. No one can step up and act like he's Joey Porter. Everybody loved Joey, from the equipment guys to everybody in that building. I know it's hard for the Steelers, but they've been successful in this league for a long time, so I'm quite sure they know what they're doing."
NOTES -- The Steelers lost Porter's possible replacement before they got a chance to talk to him when free-agent New England linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, a California native, reached a contract agreement with the San Francisco 49ers yesterday. Banta-Cain, 26, was scheduled to visit the Steelers today. They were considering him as a possible replacement for Porter, who was released Thursday.Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Joey Porter agreed to a five-year, $32 million contract with the Dolphins that will pay him a reported $12 million signing bonus and another $8 million in guaranteed money.
Click photo for larger image.
First Published March 7, 2007 12:00 am