The Buccaneers have released defensive tackle Chris Baker, the club announced today.
Baker inked a three-year, $15.75MM contract with Tampa Bay just last spring, but he lasted only a single season before being released. The 30-year-old Baker collected $6MM for his lone campaign with the Buccaneers, and the team will now pick up $4.875MM in salary cap space by cutting him. Tampa rarely uses signing bonuses, which means prorations don’t accelerate when the club releases players. As such, the Bucs won’t incur any dead money by parting ways with Baker.
Although he’d played like of the league’s better interior defenders from 2015-16, Baker struggled in 2017, grading as just the No. 96 defensive tackle among 122 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Baker was thought to be a perfect partner for fellow Tampa defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, but the Buccaneers ranked just 20th in adjusted line yards and 32nd in adjusted sack rate, leading to the recent firing of defensive line coach Jay Hayes.
While he flamed out in Tampa Bay, Baker figures to land another deal as a rotational interior lineman. He’s a free agent immediately, and doesn’t have to wait until March 14 to find another club. Baker joins a free agent defensive tackle market that also includes Dontari Poe, Sheldon Richardson, Bennie Logan, and Star Lotulelei.
The Buccaneers have now released two high-profile players today, as running back Doug Martin was cut this morning. Counting those two moves, Tampa Bay now has more than $70MM in available cap space, which would put the club in top five among NFL teams.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.