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Comparison: Joey Porter vs Adalius Thomas

You know, the NFL is funny. Many times, when free agents get signed, the media loves to jump all over the deal. They'll either declare these signings as "great deals" or argue that it was a "terrible deal." Just last year, we saw this kind of reaction involving the Dolphins and the Patriots. Everyone said the Patriots deal for Adalius Thomas was so great. But then everyone said the Dolphins overpaid for Joey Porter. Then, because the Dolphins sucked this year and the Patriots were, we'll say, pretty good, we heard all about how the Joey Porter signing by the Dolphins was so terrible. And sure, it doesn't look like it was a good deal. But what we never heard about was how the Adalius Thomas signing by New England was just as questionable.

First, consider the stats:

Player Tackles Sacks Ints TDs PDs FFs FRs TFLs
Adalius Thomas 79 6.5 1 1 8 2 0 6
Joey Porter 66 5.5 2 0 5 1 0 7

I'd say those numbers are quite close, and probably closer than many would expect. Also consider that both players are the same age. Now, both players signed 5 year deals last offseason. And both players got $20 million in total guaranteed money. However, it's Thomas who will make $3 million more over the life of the contract ($35 million to $32 million).

So to now compare these two on an "impact plays" level, let's go back to using the Impact Plays Index (IPI) which is explained here:

Player IPI
Adalius Thomas 84.5
Joey Porter 70.5

So there's a 14 point difference between the two. And 6 of those points are because of the touchdown scored by Thomas. And another 6.5 points of that difference is due to Thomas making 13 more tackles, though he only had 1 more solo tackle than Porter. Again, I'm not arguing that Porter is better or had a better season than Thomas. The point is to show that while people are constantly knocking the Porter deal the Dolphins signed, nobody seems to say the Thomas deal also wasn't all that good of a deal.

And to really accentuate that, let's look at the number of "impact plays" that each player made per game. Again, keep in mind that for this statistic, tackles are not counted because, after all, the value of a tackle is hard to justify in stats. A lot depends on situation and where the tackle was made.

Player IP/G
Adalius Thomas 1.53
Joey Porter 1.28

With it broken down this way, I ask you: is one quarter of an impact play per game worth $3 million dollars more over 5 years? Or, to simplify this: are 4 more "impact plays" in one season worth the additional $750,000? It might be. But the ting about it is this: how can the media knock the Joey Porter signing without even questioning the Adalius Thomas signing?

And when looking at all these stats, I think something important gets overlooked. Joey Porter was slowed during the early part of the season with that knee that he had scoped about a month before opening day. So he really didn't get up to full speed until the final 8 games of the year. And in those 8 games, Porter played very well. Here are both players' numbers over their team's last 8 games of the regular season:

Player Tackles Sacks Ints PDs
Joey Porter 39 4.5 2 3
Adalius Thomas 40 6 0 3

Very similar, aren't they?

The bottom line here is that I don't think we should simply write off Joey Porter yet. He came on strong late in the season last year and I think he still has plenty of gas in the tank.

And to be honest, I think that his deal with the Dolphins will turn out to be a better deal than Adalius Thomas' deal with the Patriots. And that's ironic, in my view, considering how many wanted the Dolphins to sign Thomas last year and not Porter.