By Jamual Forrest, special to Breaking Burgundy
Washington Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker will turn 30 years of age early in the 2017 season. Before that he'll turn into a free agent and likely receive the biggest contract of his NFL career no matter how more he signs. Teams will be interested because he's produced over the last two seasons and defensive linemen are coveted.
The Redskins need defensive linemen, badly. Whether they covet Baker at his projected price tag is the question.
After starting his career as undrafted free agent signed in 2009, Baker bounced around signing with Washington in 2011. The promotion from the practice squad came the following season. He showed enough for a 3-year, $9 million contract, but "Swaggy" truly took off in 2015. when he produced career highs with six sacks, 53 tackles and three forced fumbles. Another strong season followed, though his stats dipped in 2016. Baker had 3.5 sacks, 47 tackles and two forced fumbles. An above average pass rusher as a 3-4 defensive end, solid against the run as well, though, in my opinion, a bit down in both last season.
Don’t get me wrong, Baker's presence on the field for Washington was evident. He served as the Redskins' best lineman, but then again, we're talking about a mediocre group. Do those comparisons make grading him more complicated? Note that according to the sports contract website spotrac.com, Baker will likely receiving an offer just shy of $8 million per year. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus ranks him No. 22 among all NFL free agents.
At this moment the Redskins probably need three new starters up front for their 3--4 look. Should they offer the soon-to-be 30-year-old Baker a four-year deal with a total value around $32 million? Put me down for a no at this point. His production the last two years does not match the market value in my opinion. The Redskins may be better off investing into younger defensive lineman and developing them under proper tutelage from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
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