Here is the 13th in an 18-part series examining the Chicago Bears' unrestricted free agents.
Name: Tracy Porter
NFL experience: Eight years
2015 salary: $870,000
2015 key statistics: 38 tackles (coaches’ review), one interception, one forced fumble and 22 pass breakups (team-high).
Probability to return: Moderate
Outlook: Porter successfully recovered from an injury-plagued one-year stint in Washington (three games played in 2014) to become arguably Chicago’s most effective cornerback last season. Porter’s crowning achievement in a Bears’ uniform happened in Chicago’s upset victory at Green Bay when Porter became the only player to record four pass breakups against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a single-game.
“The guy understands the game,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio remarked. “He can watch tape and see things. You can talk to him as a coach and talk to him on a high level. The guy really understands football and he’s been a big help to us.”
Porter’s play slipped towards the end of the year -- Porter was involved in the busted coverage in Chicago’s bitter Week 13 loss to San Francisco -- but he has plenty of history with Bears head coach John Fox (Denver) and general manager Ryan Pace (New Orleans). The Bears clearly like him -- for the right price. That being said, Porter may want to test the open market in free agency, which is his right. Porter certainly deserves a pay bump from the veteran minimum he earned in 2015, and the Bears are likely to accommodate that request -- to a certain extent. With so many other holes to fill on defense, the idea of Chicago starting Porter and Kyle Fuller at cornerback (Porter can also play nickel back) is palatable for another year.