The Falcons have released offensive tackle Sam Baker, the team announced today in a press release. Because Baker is a vested veteran, he’ll immediately become a free agent without having to pass through waivers.
Bakers, who turned 30 last month, had been recovering from a torn right patellar tendon that forced him out of action for the entire 2014 season. Knee issues limited him to less than 200 offensive snaps in 2013 as well, so health and cap concerns likely both played a part in the Falcons’ decision to part ways with him.
Baker had been set to count for $7.3MM against Atlanta’s cap this year, and that number actually would’ve increased had the team opted to cut him prior to June 1. Instead, he’ll have a $2.8MM dead money cap hit for the Falcons this year, creating $4.5MM in cap room. The remaining $6.4MM in dead money on Baker’s contract will be on the club’s books for 2016.
Baker, a first-round pick in 2008, played 66 games (57 starts) at left tackle for the Falcons from 2008 to 2012 before injuries limited him over the last two seasons. While his solid play earned Baker a big contract, the team drafted Jake Matthews in 2014 intending to make Matthews the long-term left tackle. Had he remained on the team for the 2015 season, Baker likely would’ve played guard.
Depending on his health, Baker could be a low-cost investment with upside for a team in need of offensive line help. I wouldn’t put him at left tackle anymore, but it’s possible he could play on the right side, or at one of the guard spots. Are there any teams you view as a potential fit for the longtime Falcon? Feel free to weigh in below in the comments section.