TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been very busy during these last few hours leading up to the start of the NFL’s free-agency signing period.
In addition to landing wide receiver DeSean Jackson they have also drawn Jackson’s former Redskins teammate, defensive tackle Chris Baker, to Tampa, signing him to a three-year, $18 million deal.
The Bucs have also re-signed running back Jacquizz Rodgers and safety Chris Conte.
The addition of Baker, though, is a big one for the defense as it brings to Tampa the player who was arguably the Redskins most disruptive on his side of the ball last year.
“Heading into free agency, Chris was one of our priority targets,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “He is a big, athletic player who has developed into a disruptive interior lineman over the past three years. He will be a great addition to our defensive line and a solid fit in Mike Smith’s defensive system.”
A fifth-year pro out of Hampton College in 2009, Baker has been the primary starter at left end in the Redskins’ 3-4 alignment the last four years.
During that span Baker has recorded 100 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three pass breakups five forced fumbles and for what it’s worth was rated 27th on NFL.com’s list of the top 101 free agents.
“Chris has excellent size and what really jumps out at you is his ability to flash dominance at times during games and his explosive quickness,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “His versatility will make him a great complementary player alongside Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald on our interior defensive line.”
It’s interesting that the Bucs are pulling in a 3-4 end, but their plan is likely to work Baker inside as he’s established himself as a solid, if not superior, run stopper, which is something the Bucs have been in need of.
It’s still too soon to know if Baker is being brought in to replace Akeem Spence but we know the Bucs have not been all that eager to re-sign Spence, so Baker could be their choice for that role.
There is no disputing that with their blockbuster DeSean Jackson deal, and the re-signings of Jacquizz Rodgers and Chris Conte, that Buccaneers are quickly and effectively, using the almost $70 million in cap space.
The Baker deal, by the way, will reportedly pay Baker $5.25 million per year and carries clauses that could push his annual payout to $6.25 million.