An inside look at the Baker saga

There are obviously two sides to the Chris Baker contract dispute. The tight end feels he is underpaid, and was promised a raise. The team looks at it differently.

The Jets feel Baker's current deal is commensurate with his production, and that no promise was made to re-work his contract.

Baker is currently the 18th highest paid tight end in the NFL, and based on his production, the team seems to feel that is a fair for him.

Two years ago, Baker signed a four-year, $6.6 million deal. The deal averages $1.65 million per season. If that figure number sounds familiar, it should. Former Green Bay Packers tight end Bubba Franks recently signed a one-year, $1.65 million deal with the Jets.

Clearly the Jets offered Franks that number for a reason. They didn't want to anger Baker by giving the free agent addition more money than the incumbent.

The Jets plan was to use Baker and Franks in their two tight ends sets this year. They are very similar players. Both are excellent blockers with good ability in the short-to-intermediate passing game. So Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum gave them the same money to avoid jealousy.

But then the team decided to grab Purdue tight end Dustin Keller in the NFL draft, by trading with Green Bay for the 30th pick overall.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, the driving force behind this trade wasn't to tweak Baker. The Jets don't have a lot of offensive players who scare defenders. Getting a tight end that runs 4.5, and who can create mismatches, was too tempting for them to pass up.

However, this further complicated the Baker matter. The Queens-native knows that the rookie is going to make more money than him, and he's clearly not too happy about it.

Especially because his perception is that Franks is scheduled to make more than him this year.

While the Jets are focused on the average salary of Baker's four-year deal, the tight end is looking at his $683,500 base salary for 2008. And that figure irks him because it would make him the third highest paid tight end on the roster this season behind Keller and Franks.

The Jets don't seem willing to budge on this one, so Baker's camp wants the team to consider a trade.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum says he won't trade Baker.

The Jets don't want this situation to turn into the Pete Kendall sideshow of last summer.

But right now it looks like it might be headed that way.

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