After signing veteran CBs, Bears cut Tracy Porter
After spending the last month collecting veteran cornerbacks, the Bears finally began making room for them Monday, cutting Tracy Porter one year after giving him a three-year, $12 million extension.
Porter’s résumé makes the move surprising — he was the Bears’ best cornerback for most of his two seasons in Chicago — but the circumstances say otherwise.
Porter turns 31 in August, making him the oldest player in a cornerbacks group that still has an astounding 13 players in it.
He started 15 games last season, sitting out the first drive of the finale because he overslept, but struggled with knee issues throughout the year.
The Bears walked away from Porter with little financial penalty. He received all the guaranteed money, $4.25 million, from his three-year deal last season. The Bears saved themselves a $3.6 million cap hit by cutting Porter, though they’ll have to carry $600,000 of his dead money.
It was clear last month that the Bears weren’t content to rely on Porter as their top cornerback — they started paying other veterans more for 2017.
They signed ex-Giants and Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara to a one-year, $7 million deal and gave Marcus Cooper, formerly of the Cardinals, a three-year, $16 million deal with $6 million guaranteed.
For depth, they re-signed Johnthan Banks. They tendered Bryce Callahan, who figures to compete for the slot corner position. Last week, the Bears added B.W. Webb.
At the NFL owners meeting late last month, GM Ryan Pace called Amukamara a “savvy, consistent pro” and Cooper a raw player who is “ascending” after not playing cornerback until late in his college career.
The Bears could add a cornerback in the first round in this month’s draft, too; Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore figures to be a top-10 pick, and the Bears have the third selection.
The Bears need a safety, too, be it Lattimore’s college teammate Malik Hooker, LSU’s Jamal Adams or someone available after the first round. Coach John Fox said last month that, while the Bears had addressed their secondary via free agency, it was one of the areas “where we’re not done yet.”
Best known for returning a Peyton Manning interception for a 74-yard touchdown to clinch Super Bowl XLIV for Pace’s former team, the Saints, Porter signed late — in June 2015 — only to struggle with hamstring problems throughout training camp. He made the team, though, earned the starting job by Week 4 and never relinquished it.
Porter, who often followed the opponent’s best receiver around the field, starred in perhaps Fox’s best win with the Bears. In a 17-13 upset of the Packers on Thanksgiving night in 2015, Porter intercepted Aaron Rodgers and batted down a third-down pass in the end zone.
The Indiana alum had two interceptions last year — one on the first drive of the season against the Texans — and added one forced fumble.
“It’s the business of this league,” Porter wrote on Twitter. “If I stopped every time someone told me I couldn’t, then I wouldn’t have made it this far.”
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