From Len Pasquerelli's Inside Tip Sheet Column on Friday Don't be surprised if in the next week or so the Pittsburgh Steelers release Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter. Porter's productivity tailed off considerably in 2006, and his contract status could become a problem. Porter is due a $1 million roster bonus on March 6, and his scheduled base salary for 2007, the final season of his current deal, is $4 million. Porter made some noise last summer about sitting out training camp in an effort to elicit a new contract from the Steelers but backed off those threats on the advice of then-coach Bill Cowher. Word around the league is that Porter, whose forte has always been his explosive quickness coming off the edge, has lost a half-step. "He isn't the same guy," said one rival AFC North coach this week. "He's not a guy anymore where you say, 'OK, I have to game-plan around him.' It'll be interesting to see what [the Steelers] do with him. More than the money, it's an issue of his performance really tailing off." First-year coach Mike Tomlin retained Dick LeBeau as his defensive coordinator, so the guess is that Pittsburgh will deploy a 3-4 front again in 2007. But long term, the suspicion is that Tomlin wants to transition to a Cover 2-type of scheme and a 4-3 front. And Porter, a hybrid-type player, certainly is not a good fit for that combination. Ok, Porter may be a loudmouth and might have lost a step, but he might be perfect for the Pats. The Pats aren't as much of a blitzing team as the Steelers so that lost half step might not be as much of an issue for them. Porter will probably ask for too much if he is released and I don't think the Pats would get into a bidding war for him because he isn't as versatile as a guy like Adalius Thomas, but it could at least cool the market a bit on Thomas with Porter available.