TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Washington Redskins free-agent defensive lineman Chris Baker. Baker played 3-4 defensive end in Washington but is expected to play defensive tackle for Tampa Bay.
Here is more on the move:
Terms: Three years, $15.75 million (maximum of $18.75 million with incentives), $9 million guaranteed.
ESPN 150 ranking: 43
Grade: B Baker, a 330-pound defensive tackle, was a 16-game starter last season for the Redskins. He’s started 38 games over the past three seasons. He’s shown the ability to get good penetration and had 9.5 sacks over the past two seasons, with six in 2015. With those numbers, he should be a big part of the Bucs’ pass rush next season. It's an area the team has been adamant about improving. Having a big frame like that to plug the interior doesn’t hurt, as the Bucs struggled against the run last season.
What it means: There may be a bit of a shakeup happening along the defensive line, as Baker's numbers don't scream "backup," especially when compared to last season's starter, Clinton McDonald. McDonald signed with the Bucs in 2014 for four years and $12 million with $4.75 million guaranteed. Baker will make $15.75 million in three years with $9 million guaranteed. It should be noted that the salary cap was $133 million in 2014; in 2017 it's $167 million, but regardless, it shows what direction they're heading in. McDonald is 30 years old and has one year remaining on his contract.
Despite what he's getting paid, head coach Dirk Koetter referred to Baker as a "complementary player" in a statement provided by the team just after the deal was finalized. “Chris has excellent size and what really jumps out at you is his ability to flash dominance at times during games and his explosive quickness,” Koetter said. “His versatility will make him a great complementary player alongside Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald on our interior defensive line.”
What’s the risk? The one knock on Baker in Washington was his consistency. The coaching staff there wanted to see more out of him in terms of effort on every play, which is why the Redskins wouldn't venture above a certain price point. The Redskins did want Baker back, though, and they valued his versatility.