SIGNING CHRIS BAKER INSTEAD OF CALAIS CAMPBELL
During the open “tampering period” prior to free agency the Buccaneers decided not to sign defensive end Calais Campbell because of the price he was commanding for his age (basically at 30 years old 2 years $30 million with an out after the 2018 season with $3 million in dead money) so instead they passed and set their sights on a defensive tackle who had played defensive end in the past. Instead signing 29 year old defensive tackle Chris Baker to basically a one year deal for $6 million and if they chose to cut him after 2017 would have no dead money.
With these two deals it was understandable for them to pass on Campbell and sign Baker saving $9 million on the deal but the Buccaneers did have the third highest amount of cap space at the time at $67 million. Now let’s look at the stat difference between Campbell and Baker during the 2017.
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Calais Campbell ended up starting all sixteen games at defensive end leading all defensive linemen with 67 tackles, a team leading 14.5 sacks (7.5 sacks less than the Buccaneers as a whole), and one fumble recovery touchdown while playing 77.4% of the defensive snaps, and helped lead the Jaguars defensive to a 10-6 record and into the AFC conference championship game.
While defensive tackle Chris Baker started fourteen games for the Buccaneers but played a mere 43% of the total defensive snaps with 33 tackles and a disappointing half a sack of the Buccaneers NFL low 22 sacks, and was out played in snaps (44%) by a defensive tackle who was already on the roster in Clinton McDonald (29 tackles five sacks).
The Buccaneers would have been better off resigning 25 year old defensive tackle Akeem Smith who is actually larger then Baker at 6’1” 307 lbs (6’2” 297 lbs) but he ended up signing with the Lions for 3 years $9 million, and had better stats then Baker starting eleven games with 29 tackles and three sacks while playing 60.8% of the Lions defensive snaps.
Resigning Spence for the small contract that he signed with the Lions and then signing Calais Campbell would have been the smarter decision as Campbell has had way more success than Baker and was the top defensive end free agent last season. Instead the Buccaneers made the “Mistake” of passing on Campbell letting Akeem Spence leave and signing a defensive tackle bust in Chris Baker who played less than 50% of the team’s defensive snaps.