Maybe the 2013 season with the Oakland Raiders will be his first.
The Raiders and Porter agreed to terms on a contract on Tuesday, as reported by ESPN's Josina Anderson. His deal is reportedly worth $2.5 million and should provide Oakland with a veteran presence capable of making a big impact in the secondary each week.
At a closer glance, this deal is about more than just filling a void for a defense that finished 18th in the NFL last season.
Porter said it best himself in a text message to Anderson about his free-agent choice (per the ESPN report): "They presented the best opportunity for me to get my career back on track after what transpired last season with the Denver Broncos."
Getting his career back on track in year No. 6 will be priority No. 1.
In the process, both sides should benefit.
From a career standpoint, Porter has had his fair share of shining moments. His brightest came in Super Bowl XLIV, when he intercepted then-Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning and returned it for a touchdown. The play sealed the game for New Orleans and became the signature moment of the Saints' season.
Playing with the AFC regular season champion Denver Broncos and new QB Manning last season after his four-year stint in New Orleans was over, Porter was a major disappointment.
Injuries limited him to just six games in Denver's push toward the Super Bowl. An offseason seizure scare carried over into the regular season, while a concussion kept him out of Denver's second-round loss to Baltimore in the AFC playoffs. Who knows, maybe a healthy Porter would have been in underneath coverage against Jacoby Jones in the ill-fated play that eventually cost Denver its season.
Injuries cost Porter a hot start and eventually his role with the team.
He re-entered the free-agent pool after his one-year contract with Denver was up this offseason and will rejoin an old friend—head coach Dennis Allen—who knows exactly what a healthy, motivated Porter is capable of in this league.
Allen, if you'll remember, served as a New Orleans defensive coach from 2006 to 2010, including a three-year stay as the Porter's personal position coach. Allen moved to Oakland in 2012, a year after a successful stint as Denver's defensive coordinator in 2011.
Needless to say, the two old friends know each other very well. That should present Porter an opportunity to re-establish himself as a top-tier cornerback in the league.
ESPN's Bill Williamson wrote on Tuesday that the deal made sense for both sides. Here's what Williamson had to say about where Porter fits with Oakland:
Porter is known as a hit-or-miss cornerback, and many around the league think he is best suited as a No. 2 or No. 3 cornerback depending on the team’s roster. He makes his share of plays, but he also has been known to gamble and lose. But because of his history with Allen and Allen’s big need at this position, this is a worthwhile paring.
Despite that sentiment that Porter is best suited as a No. 2 guy on a good team, there is certainly evidence to suggest otherwise.
John Pollard provides some here on Twitter, when listing how many receptions some key wideouts had on Porter during the 2012 season (six games, albeit):
Receivers who caught the ball against Tracy Porter last year. twitter.com/JPSTATS/status…— JohnPollard (@JPSTATS) April 2, 2013
As Williamson noted, Porter has a tendency to go for the big play. It's paid off big in the form of 10 career regular-season and postseason interceptions and 40 career passes defensed. However, that's not what Oakland is signing him up for in 2013.
For starters, Porter must stay healthy.
He does Allen, his teammates and the fans no good on the bench, likely one of the reasons for his modest $2.5 million salary. Despite the obvious dangers of seizures and the head injuries that Porter has suffered during his NFL career, it's due time he proves that he can survive a full season successfully.
Secondly, this is a change for major growth as a player.
In the AFC West, Porter will go up against some of the premier quarterbacks and wide receivers in the game. For starters, old friend Manning now has Wes Welker to go along with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in Denver.
Philip Rivers commands a potent offense in San Diego, highlighted by Malcom Floyd. In Kansas City, the Chiefs now feature San Francisco cast-off Alex Smith and re-signed No. 1 Dwayne Bowe, a tandem that could wreak havoc both on the field and in fantasy leagues for years to come.
What is a realistic interception number for Porter in 2013?
There will be ample time to prove Porter can contend with top targets.
Oakland obviously loves Porter's upside as just a 27-year-old cornerback, and his body of work speaks for itself—when healthy.
A starting cornerback job and a slew of opportunities to cover elite wide receivers to go along with it are within Porter's grasp with this new deal. Oakland made the most of this signing by creating a low-risk, high-reward contract, and Porter has the skill set to produce on his end.