The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Will the Redskins sign Chris Baker?
Tandler: While most of the contract talk centers on the quarterback and the wide receivers, there is one very big decision to be made on defense. Chris Baker is slated to be a free agent in two weeks and there is no indication yet whether the Redskins will bring him back.
Baker has been the Redskins’ best defensive lineman for the last three years. He has seen high-priced free agents Jason Hatcher and Stephen Paea come and go along with others such as Pot Roast Knighton and Kendall Reyes. Now that it’s his turn to sign a moderately rich contract there are serious doubts about his future.
The Redskins are looking at the numbers. He has been highly productive, with 10.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in the last two seasons combined. Baker will be 29 in October so age is not a huge factor now but it will become one over the course of a multi-year deal.
The big number, of course, is money. Spotrac has calculated that his market value will lead to Baker getting a four-year contract averaging $7.3 million per year. That would be roughly comparable to what the Redskins gave a 32-year-old Jason Hatcher to come from the Cowboys in 2014 (Hatcher got four years, $27.5 million with $10.5 million fully guaranteed).
Should the Redskins bring back Baker? Yes. They need to rebuild the defensive line and Baker should be around for continuity. He wants to stay here and there is no reason to let him go elsewhere. But the question here is, will they bring him back? There is much information to go on so I’ll guess that he will be back but I won’t be shocked at all if he’s not.
Finlay: The Redskins need to rebuild their defensive line, however, that should include Baker. Surprisingly quick for his size, he can play well against the run and has great burst to apply interior pressure in the pocket.
Pro Football Focus rated Baker as one of the 10 best under the radar free agents that will hit the market this year, and the 'Skins should take notice. From PFF:
"He has been a very good all-around player on the defensive line for two seasons. Baker gets consistent pressure on the quarterback, but is an even better run defender, as you’ll rarely find the veteran out of position. While Baker’s production took a slight step back in 2016 from 2015, he still is a reliable and dependable option for teams looking for stability on the D-line."
Tandler's Spotrac projection sounds about right, Baker will earn somewhere around $7 million or $8 million per season on his next deal. Just not sure it will happen in D.C.
More offseason questions:
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