Redskins Sign Tracy Porter: Grading the Move and What It Means for Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 13, 2014

Sep 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter (23) on the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Two days into free agency, the Washington Redskins have seemingly gone out of their way to avoid falling back into old free-spending, star-chasing Redskins habits, despite having money to spend for the first time in several years. 

But this is a team without a first-round pick and with a lot of holes on both sides of the ball. So I gotta say, I don't understand what the hell they're thinking as they navigate the free-agent market. 

Signing Shawn Lauvao, Adam HaywardDarryl Sharpton, Clifton Geathers—According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post—and Bruce Campbell to cost-friendly contracts in order to add depth and help a wretched special-teams unit is something most of us can understand and live with. Lauvao has a chance to start at a somewhat reasonable $4 million a year, and the rest of those guys combined will probably cost about the same (no more than $6 million in total, depending on Geathers' deal, which is still undisclosed).  

No big splashes, but some sensible moves. 

Until you arrive at Tracy Porter, who agreed to terms on Thursday, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport

Porter is an unreliable journeyman who, as far as I can tell, is a slightly younger version of Josh Wilson. Wilson isn't back because he was a dud in coverage each of the last two years, and there's no reason to expect things to be any smoother with Porter stepping into his shoes. 

Porter is a name, nothing more. He's the guy who intercepted Peyton Manning to clinch a Super Bowl victory for the Saints in 2009. But he was destroyed in coverage time and again in 2011, which is why New Orleans let him walk. 

Same thing happened in Denver in 2012, which is why the Broncos made no attempt to re-sign him after a weak, injury-plagued season. 

And then, after being torched for a full season in Oakland in 2013, the Raiders, who according to entered the offseason with a league-high $65 million in cap space, also made little or no effort to re-sign the 27-year-old corner. 

If a defensive player is ditched by three mediocre defensive teams in three consecutive years, he shouldn't be on your radar. 

The Raiders won only four games last year and had the fifth-worst pass defense in the NFL. The batch of cornerbacks on their current roster have a combined three career starts. They're a mess, and yet they were cool with the idea of moving on without Porter. 

It's nice that he's a former second-round pick with 59 career starts under his belt and is supposed to be in his prime. But the guy has just five interceptions in 48 games since 2010. It gets worse:

  • He missed 18 tackles in 2013, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which was two more than Wilson and was tied with DeAngelo Hall for the second-highest total among NFL cornerbacks. Another poor tackler is not something the 'Skins need. 
  • Pro Football Focus grades on their own are worth little more than a grain of salt, but it's worth mentioning that PFF ranked him 105th out of 110 qualifying cornerbacks last season. 
  • Before he went down for the year five weeks into the 2012 season, opposing quarterbacks had a 108.1 passer rating when throwing his way, per PFF. That number was 100.4 in 2011 and 93.7 in 2013. All bad. 

Porter might only be a piece of a larger offseason puzzle, and he's certainly an upgrade as a No. 4 corner, but as a nickel guy behind Hall and David Amerson I'm not sure he's a better option than Wilson would have been. 

Fresh blood is sometimes good, but in this case it shouldn't have been worth anything more than the veteran minimum salary. Porter isn't a starting-caliber player and doesn't deserve starter money. 

Washington didn't have to go on a spending spree this week, but there's a difference between spending smart and wimping out. With over $16 million to spend, the 'Skins took an overly cautious route and probably ended up wasting money on Porter. 

I understand not wanting to pay for Aqib Talib or Darrelle Revis, but they probably could have had Corey Graham or Nolan Carroll, both of whom are better all-around players at that position, for only a few extra million dollars.