In a move with likely implications for the upcoming 2017 draft and foreshadowed when the Bears moved in free agency to sign presumed starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, the Bears on Monday waived veteran cornerback Tracy Porter.
The Bears already had targeted the secondary aggressively in free agency with a one-year deal for Amukamara, 27, and a three-year contract with Cooper, both starters at Jacksonville and Arizona, respectively. And the 2017 draft is informally rated as one of the best ever for defensive backs, cornerbacks in particular.
Various outlets have posited the Bears selecting Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the No. 3 pick overall, although analysts have predicted that starter-grade cornerbacks will be available as late as the fourth round.
Porter, the senior member of the secondary and its acknowledged group leader (members met at Porter’s house every Thursday during the season to talk football and watch film together), had been a second-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2008 while Bears GM Ryan Pace was a member of the New Orleans personnel department. After single seasons in Denver, Oakland and Washington, Porter came to the Bears in 2015 on a one-year contract and was re-signed last offseason to a three-year deal with $4.25 million guaranteed out of a $12 million package.
Porter, who turns 31 in August, was due to make $3.5 million in 2017. But he was also part of a secondary that produced historically low takeaways the past two seasons, although Porter was perhaps as close to a bright spot as the secondary had. He collected 48 tackles, two interceptions, 13 pass breakups and one forced fumble last season. In his two seasons with the Bears, Porter led the club in pass breakups (35), while also posting his top two single-season career marks in the same category (22 in 2015 and 13 in 2016).
Porter has started 88-of-98 career contests, posting 374 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 13 interceptions, 77 pass breakups, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 17 tackles for a loss and three defensive scores. He has also appeared in six postseason games (six starts), totaling 32 tackles, two interceptions – including one returned for a touchdown – three pass breakups, two tackles for a loss and one forced fumble.