As the Washington Redskins head into free agency after nearly clinching a playoff spot for the second-straight year, we will look at some of Washington’s key players and grade their 2016 performance.
Player: Chris Baker
Position: Defensive end
Contract status: $9 million/3 years, expires in 2017
Preseason buzz: Coming off of a six sack season and entering a contract year, expectations were high for Baker to single-handedly transform an under talented unit into a satisfactory one.
Ended 2016 like: Baker ended the year with a respectable 4.5 sacks, 48 tackles, three stuffs, two passes defensed, and two forced fumbles, but at the end of the day, Washington''s defensive line was abysmal and was a factor in several of their losses. The unit's inability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing put a strain on the rest of the defense resulting in the fourth worst defense in the league by yards.
Season high: Although it came in a tie, Baker balled out overseas in London. The 300-pounder recorded a sack, a season-high five solo tackles, and even had a forced fumble to make sure Washington did not lose the game after Dustin Hopkins missed a short field goal. The strip of Andy Dalton nearly resulted in Hopkins getting a shot at redemption for the win but the offense came up a tad short.
Season low: DeAngelo Williams may be the best backup running back in the NFL, but at the end of the day, it is unacceptable to let a 33-year old back to run for 143 yards on your team on national television. Baker made three tackles in the game, including just a single solo stop, as he and the rest of the defensive line were outplayed by Pittsburgh's offensive line.
Baker did not have a great season by any means, but considering he was consistently seeing double teams as one of Washington's better from-seven defenders, it is not out of the ordinary that he did not put up huge stats. Taking on double teams made the lives of sack getters Ryan Kerrigan (11.0) and Trent Murphy (9.0) easier, but Baker's level of play was still not high enough to ensure Washington will do everything to bring him back.
2017 expectations: Assuming Baker is back, which by all indications is something he wants, he will be asked to perform at a level higher than ever before as his salary will certainly be higher than ever before.
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.
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