Late in the season Washington's Chris Baker had clearly started to play well. But when this was pointed out to him, Baker said nothing had changed. The defensive lineman was only getting more time to show what he could do.
Looks like he’ll start to get even more time now that he’s returned. Baker signed a three-year contract worth $12 million and $4 million guaranteed Thursday. Baker does more than give the Redskins insurance; there’s a chance he’ll end up opening 2014 as a starter at right end with questions surrounding both Stephen Bowen (knee) and Adam Carriker (quadriceps). If nothing else Baker will be a prime contender for that job.
Baker’s a good example of developing and then taking care of your own. Though he did not come into the league with Washington, he had appeared in only two NFL games before arriving in 2011. By helping him develop, the Redskins won’t be forced to spend big money at this position. If Bowen and Carriker can’t play, or are released and not re-signed, then the Redskins still would need more depth.
“I’ve been waiting for my chance ever since I signed as an undrafted free agent in Denver,” Baker said. “Sometimes you have to remain patient and wait your turn. I remained patient and kept grinding. I finally got my chance and took advantage.”
He started the last three games, recording 12 tackles, including six solo stops in the season finale at New York. Baker did a good job of playing with leverage, using his lower body strength and penetrating. He’s agile as well.
But he did have to learn that, in a 3-4 defense, sometimes getting upfield too fast was not a good thing as gaps can be created for the offense.
“I had an opportunity to gain the coaches' trust and I did the best I can,” Baker said. “I showed them if I’m given the opportunity to be out there consistently I can make plays, whether it’s in the run game or if it’s against the pass and pushing the pocket. I’ll prove to the coaches that they can trust me at any time on the field.”
Baker said there wasn’t a strong desire to wait until March 11 and test the market.
“I always felt if I could get a deal done with the Redskins, then I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I’m comfortable with our defense. I like our staff and they like me. They helped me become the player I am today. I really didn’t want to leave.”