But you get the feeling that Baker isn't buying that Mangini has nothing to do with contracts.
Baker thinks he could get a new deal from the Jets if Mangini pushed for it.
"I believe so," said Baker. "If he wanted to get something done he has some influence – he is the head coach."
He probably could. Remember, while GM Mike Tannenbaum does handle all contract negotiations, the head coach and GM are totally on the same page, and make decisions as a team.
"He is trying to separate himself, but I'm not really sure he can be separated from it because he is the head coach," said Baker.
Mangini set up a lunch with Baker a couple of weeks ago. Baker was hoping to talk about his contract, but Mangini wanted to catch him up on the playbook. During Baker's holdout from the off-season program, Mangini has mailed him additions to the Jets offensive scheme. And Mangini wanted to continue catching Baker up at this get-together. Baker was probably thinking during this scull session, "you have got to be kidding dude, I want a new contract, and you want to tutor me on the plays?"
"I am thinking maybe we can go this route as far as trying to come to an agreement on what to do or what steps to take," Baker said about the lunch. "It was more like here is the playbook so you don't get behind. I was like, that is really not what I came for, but I was respectful. The lunch didn't really get anything accomplished as far as what I was looking to get accomplished. Just to come and say 'Here is a book and how is your family doing?' That is nice, but that is not really getting the main goal accomplished."
It is smart for Mangini to pretend he has nothing to do with the contracts. Coaching NFL players is tough enough, without them thinking the head coach is pulling the purse strings on their money.
But we call the Jets powerful football braintrust - "Tangini" for a reason. They make all major decisions together. Like when Baker was fined $3,000 for missing a treatment for his "back" injury during mini-camp, Mangini and Tannenbaum clearly made that decision together.
And they also decide together who are "their" guys. Baker was drafted prior to Mike and Eric taking over the team. Just like Pete Kendall was signed prior to "Tangini" taking over.
Last year they didn't want to give Kendall the raise he desired. According to a source close to the Jets, they considered him a "clubhouse lawyer." But while Kendall wasn't one of "their" guys, they were willing to keep him around under his existing contract. Kendall threw a tantrum, demanding more money, and they traded him.
Now this year, it's history repeating itself with Baker.
"Baker isn't one of 'their' guys," in the opinion of close Jets observer.
And Baker sealed his fate as far as not being one of "Tangini's" guys when he ripped the offensive play-calling after last season's Philadelphia game. That doesn't fit into Eric and Mike's core values. They don't like when players sound off in the media.
But while Baker might not fit perfectly into the player blueprint Mangini and Tannenbaum have set up, he's a good player, and they wouldn't mind keeping him around. But at his current salary.
And is likely a mutual decision by both of them.
Even if Eric acting like the "good cop."
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