Bengals sign veteran journeyman defensive lineman
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - While free agency signing period in the NFL doesn't begin until March 14 the Bengals have been busy trying to sign veteran free agents released by other teams, and the Bengals on Thursday officially announced they have signed veteran journeyman defensive lineman Chris Baker to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
The 30-year-old Baker was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 20 after the first year of a three-year contract he signed with the team as a free agent on March 11, 2017 that was worth $15.72 million.
According to ESPN.com Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine, Baker had issues practicing hard, which also was a problem with his previous team, the Washington Redskins, and he also struggled making the conversion from a 3-4 defensive end to a 4-3 defensive tackle.
The Buccaneers saved $4.875 million by cutting Baker and avoided paying him a $3 million guarantee by releasing him when they did.
The Bengals were able to sign him prior to March 14, because he had been released.
The 6-foot-2, roughly 300-pound Baker, whose nickname is "Swaggy," started 14 of the 15 games he played for Tampa Bay in 2017, but recorded only 33 tackles, 24 of which were solo, and 0.5 sacks.
He spent the previous five seasons playing for the Washington Redskins, appearing in 76 games with 42 starts at both nose tackle and defensive end, although primarily at the latter position. He made 39 starts over the last three seasons combined.
His best season came in 2015 when he recorded 53 total tackles, 26 of which were solo, and had 6.0 sacks. He followed that up in 2016 by making 48 tackles, 30 of which were solo, and recording 3.0 sacks.
Baker began his NFL career with Denver Broncos in 2009 after being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Hampton, although he began his college career playing at Penn State.
After playing one game for Denver he then signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and played one game for them before being signed by Washington in 2011. He spent that season on injured reserve.
The Bengals are seeking a rotational tackle to play opposite Geno Atkins.
The team has veteran Pat Sims along with young players Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow and Josh Tupou, although none had an impact.
Baker is the second veteran the Bengals signed this offseason who had been released by another team. On Feb.14 they signed offensive lineman Bobby Hart after he had been let go by the New York Giants.
They also tried to sign veteran safety Kurt Coleman, but he signed instead over the weekend with the New Orleans Saints.