The Miami Dolphins have two choices with Joey Porter.
They can cut him the first weeks of March before a $1 million roster bonus he is scheduled to receive comes due. Or they can lose all credibility with the rest of the players in their locker room, the media, and their fans.
It's that simple.
Last week I reported to you exclusively that Porter went on a hometown radio show and said he didn't want to return to the Dolphins. That same report also included details of a meeting Porter had with Tony Sparano in which the enigmatic linebacker told the coach how unhappy he was with the Dolphins.
Despite other media questioning the validity of my report, it was confirmed Monday -- by Porter himself. He went on the Jim Rome show and basically repeated most everything he told his hometown radio station, including the idea that the best thing to happen now is that he's traded.
"I mean, it would just kind of be the smart thing do," Porter said of a trade out of Miami.
Porter also confirmed the meeting with Sparano.
I have also confirmed that Monday's nationally telecast call for a trade didn't take the Dolphins by surprise. Porter, a league source told me, has told the Dolphins he would like to be traded.
But in going public with his desire in this and the Bakersfield, California radio interview, Porter has all but sealed his fate. Even though the Dolphins last week had not made up their collective minds that Porter had played his last game for Miami, that is changing.
Until only recently, Porter had two advocates at Dolphins camp. While football czar Bill Parcells recognized Porter as a potential trouble-maker and distraction, he accepted his presence because Sparano was a fan and appreciated Porter. Porter's 17.5 sacks in 2008 also played a big role, no doubt.
Other players also liked and even looked up to Porter so that helped the linebacker.
But I am told that while the players remain Porter advocates, Sparano has soured on his weakside linebacker. The coach now sees Porter as a declining role player who is coming off a down year and isn't, at age 33, likely to improve substantially going forward.
In a phrase popular to the Dolphins, Porter is being viewed as a "progress stopper," because the team wants and expects to have younger players coming in that they want to play more than Porter.
The Dolphins, of course, could walk back from all this because they haven't made any public statement about Porter other than to say his future is still not decided. But is that really true?
The last time a Dolphins player requested a trade -- Jason Taylor in 2008 -- it got done.
Does anyone see the Dolphins hearing Porter's now nationally telecast complaints and saying, "OK, Joey, you're right and we're wrong. We're sorry. Please come back, and to make you see we really mean it, here's $1 million?"
That would send the young and impressionable players in the Miami locker room the message that management can be bullied.
And can anyone see Sparano bowing to Porter's demands to play all three downs every game no matter what after Porter basically called him out on national TV?
Where would that leave Sparano's reputation?
And would you, the Dolfan, have a higher or lower level of respect for the organization if it puts up with this kind of bovine manure?
This issue would ordinarily threaten to carry over for quite some time if Porter's delusional thinking was accurate and he actually had trade value. Then, 2010 likely being an uncapped year, the Dolphins might decide to pay Porter $1 million for the sake of salvaging a third- or fourth-round draft pick -- sort of like they did with Jason Taylor in 2008.
But Porter's trade value is zero. Zilch. Nada.
There is no team insane enough to pay a draft pick for a declining, undisciplined, headache. The market for such players is generally small anyway. In a year when the draft is promising lots of good talent even into the late middle rounds, the market for Porter practically disappears.
So, while the choice whether to keep or cut Porter remains a topic in the public realm -- largely because Porter has kept it there. The truth is the Dolphins have very little choice in this matter.
Porter's days with Miami are numbered.