NFL Free Agents 2012: Tracy Porter Signing Great Low-Risk Move by Denver Broncos

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 23, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 04:  Running back Maurice Morris #28 of the Detroit Lions looks to tackle cornerback Tracy Porter #22 of the New Orleans Saints after intercepting a pass in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos continued to make a splash in free agency on Thursday, following up the biggest free-agent acquisition in recent memory (that Manning fella) by improving their secondary with the addition of cornerback Tracy Porter, who agreed to a one-year deal with the team according to a report by ESPN's Bill Williamson.

According to an NFL source, Denver has signed New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter to a one-year, $4 million deal.

Porter is best known for intercepting a Manning pass and returning for a touchdown to seal the Saints’ victory over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. Manning signed with Denver on Tuesday.

Porter's Super Bowl heroics aside, the 25-year-old pro has been a steady player over the past three seasons, averaging over 55 tackles with six interceptions over that span, and the fifth-year corner should provide a boost to a Denver secondary that ranked 18th against the pass in 2011.

The signing also helps the Broncos get significantly younger in the defensive backfield as, although cornerback Champ Bailey is still playing at a fairly high level, the fact remains that he is 33 years old and coming off a season where he posted his lowest tackle totals of this millennium.

Williamson goes into greater detail about the signing in a later piece, and although the ESPN scribe doesn't think that Porter's arrival cures all of Denver's woes in the secondary, he certainly seems to think it's a step in the right direction.

With Porter signed for just one year and Bailey 34 in June, the Broncos will probably draft a defensive tackle or a cornerback in the first round. Why? It’s more of an immediate need. I could still see cornerback being addressed early in the draft and maybe Denver will look for some more depth in free agency.

I caught up with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to get his view on the Porter signing. Williamson thinks Porter is the best of three starting cornerbacks who have joined the AFC West in free agency. Oakland has brought in Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer.

Here are Williamson’s thoughts on the Porter signing: “He’s a real good addition. He’s a strong No. 2 cornerback opposite Champ. Porter isn’t overly strong or physical, but he can play man coverage and he is a playmaker on the ball. I am shocked he lasted so long. I would put him ahead of a fully healthy Bartell and certainly over Spencer.”

The one-year contract also insures that the Broncos minimized their risk, and should Porter flame out for whatever reason Denver can easily and painlessly cut ties. This should also ensure that Porter is amply motivated to put his best foot forward given the "prove it" nature of the deal.

This signing was yet another shrewd move by John Elway and the Denver Broncos, and while there's still a way to go before the imaginary hardware is handed out, the Broncos appear to have set themselves up quite nicely to be declared one of the big winners of free agency in 2012.