Opportunity calling: Chris Baker

Chris Baker had a breakout campaign last season. Opportunity is calling for him to do it again.

The Washington Redskins remain in the slow lane during free agency, which for now means plenty of roster spots are available on top of the battle for playing time we know will take place. As we wait for additional signings and the NFL Draft, Breaking Burgundy begins a series looking at those current players with a shot at advancing their previous roles into something larger for 2016. Check out previous profiles below plus additional mentions in the above video.

Player: Chris Baker

Position: Defensive Lineman

2015 Overview: Last season was, by far, Baker’s best season as a pro. The 28-year-old registered career highs across the board, but what really stood out were his six sacks and three forced fumbles. In the 44 career games he had played before last season, Baker had never forced a fumble and had just two sacks.

Room for Improvement: Explosiveness

Opportunity: Baker is entering a contract season. In light of the fact that he turns 29 in October, he may never get a better shot at a nice payday than he has now. Unlike some of the other players for whom opportunity is calling (see below), Baker doesn’t need to step up as much as he needs to maintain last year’s level of production in the one ahead. There’s plenty of financial incentive for him to do so, and it could also prove critical to the Redskins’ success. With Jason Hatcher and Terrance Knighton departing for free agency, Baker is the only returning starter from last season’s defensive line. That is, unless his Twitter campaign to bring back Knighton, who happens to be a childhood friend, succeeds.

https://twitter.com/cbaker92redskin/status/713198540584054784

2016 Projection: Baker responds to all the incentives and puts another solid season under his belt, with the help of his teammates. Ryan Kerrigan's sack total dropped from 13.5 in 2014 to 9.5 last season, and it’s fairly safe to expect somewhat of a bounce back in 2016. Opposing offensive lines are going to have their hands full with Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who notched eight sacks during his rookie season. Additionally, the Redskins are expected to take a defensive tackle early in the upcoming draft, and the rookie may add to the pass-rushing concoction. Baker should have plenty of room to operate.

Opportunity (also) calling:

Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @DanRothDC.

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