With DeSean Jackson talk being all the rage, can new Buccaneers defensive tackle Chris Baker end up being the steal of free agency?
There was a collective cheer from Buccaneers fans when DeSean Jackson was signed to compliment Mike Evans. Yet, when Chris Baker joined him in choosing beaches and sun over the Nation’s capital, there wasn’t nearly as big of a reaction. Maybe he was overshadowed by Jackson. Maybe not enough people knew who he was or what he brings to the table. I was guilty of the latter when I heard the Bucs had interest in him and had to start doing my homework.
Now? Well, now it looks like he could wind up one of free agency’s biggest steals.
The 6’2″, 300-lb undrafted tackle signed a three year, $15.75-million dollar deal with the Bucs when free agency opened March 9, finally giving them that big interior threat to line up next to Gerald McCoy. Baker actually spoke to SiriusXM NFL Radio and told them about how disrespected he felt when the Redskins let him walk;
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"“It was really hurtful learning that the Redskins didn’t really offer me a contract, being that I was one of their best defensive linemen on their team for the last couple of years and really worked my way up from the practice squad to being one of the best linemen. And for them not to offer me was very hurtful, but I understand it’s a business and I’m very happy to move forward with the Buccaneers and I think I really have a bright future there.”"
Baker was a late bloomer, accumulating 12.5 sacks in his seven year career, but 10.5 of those have come in the last two seasons. NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” actually spoke about Baker being an underrated storyline and compared him to another free agent defensive tackle – Dontari Poe.
The video can be found here, but the crew goes on to compare the two players and finds that over the last two seasons Baker has more tackles (101-66), sacks (10.5-2.5) and forced fumbles (5-2). Poe signed a one year, eight million dollar deal with division rival Atlanta.
So not only are the Bucs getting the better performer in Baker, but they’re also getting him for two million less in 2017 than the Falcons are getting Poe.
Baker will have to continue to put it together on the field when the season starts, but it appears as though Jason Licht has stolen one of the best available defensive tackles and nobody even noticed.