Arizona Cardinals Add Joey Porter

March 20, 2010 – By John Ritter

The departure of Karlos Dansby left a gaping hole in the second level of the Arizona Cardinals’ defense, but it only took about a week to fill it back up.

The reigning NFC West champs agreed to a three-year deal with Joey Porter, essentially swapping middle linebackers with the Miami Dolphins, for a maximum value of $24.5 million. The conservative figure is about $17.5 million for the life of the contract, said ESPN, with the extra amount made up in escalators.

Porter is in his 12th season and second on the active sack list behind Jason Taylor. He has 92, primarily with the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Dolphins in 2007.

He also has 12 interceptions, 23 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.

Many of the Cardinals coaching staff was with him in Pittsburgh, including head coach Ken Wisenhunt, which was a big factor in his decision.

“I was looking to play for a West Coast team and I know everything Whiz is about,” Porter said at the time. “He had me over there in Pittsburgh for eight years so I don’t have to be blindsided by some new coaches and trying to wonder how I fit. I know exactly how I fit. I know how he would try and use me if I was here and I am just trying to be a piece to the puzzle that’s already there.”

Porter was released by Miami after a troubled 2009 season in which he drew the ire of coaches over his protest of playing time. He complained that he was pulled in to many situations, and that his increasing age shouldn’t be confused for diminishing play.

“I’ve got a lot left,” he told ESPN. “All you have to do is turn on the tape and I feel like I don’t have to sell myself. What I did on the football field is going to sell that for me. With my role being reduced to the playing time I did have and missing three games, I still mustered up enough to lead the team (with nine sacks).”

Whisenhunt didn’t need any persuasion, though. When Dansby bolted for more money in free agency, he convinced Arizona’s front office to target him as a potential replacement right away.

“Two areas that come to mind are his productivity on the field, getting 26.5 sacks over the last two years is pretty impressive, especially considering last year with not even playing a full season,” Whisenhunt told ESPN. “Also the mentality he brings, it’s something we have made great progress with as a team. Having another veteran player, who has had great success in this league, to contribute to that will only help us in an area defensively where we want to improve.”

Arizona had the 20th-rated defense in ’09, but had the fourth-most sacks. Replacing Dansby is only one piece of the puzzle as the focus now turns on finding a safety to fill in for Antrel Rolle, who signed with New York a few weeks ago. The Cardinals are 35/1 underdogs to win the 2011 Super Bowl, according to Bodog, after two-straight trips to the playoffs.

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