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Chris Baker, Buccaneers Agree to 3-Year Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 11: Chris Baker #92 of the Washington Redskins gives a thumbs up prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added a productive piece to their defensive line Thursday by signing Chris Baker

The Buccaneers announced Baker's signing on their official Twitter account. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Baker's deal is for three years and over $6 million per year. 

While Baker will be a featured piece on his new defensive line in 2017 and beyond, Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic cited a video interview after the 2016 season where Baker said he wanted to remain with Washington for the rest of his career.

He also tweeted a similar sentiment himself:

Chris Baker @cbakerswaggy

Much love to the @Redskins and #RedskinsNation it's been a great 6 yrs hopefully I'll be back #HTTR #SWAGGYTIME #REDSKINSFORLIFE

Alas, Washington's loss is Tampa Bay's gain, even if Jamie Oakes of CBS Sports suggested Baker should have been a priority for his old team: "On a defensive line that could be described as patchwork at best in the front three, Baker is the only legitimate keeper of the group."

Baker turned the corner the last two seasons and finished with career-high totals in 2015 with six sacks and 53 combined tackles. He followed that up with 3.5 sacks and 47 combined tackles in 2016 and assumed a critical spot in Washington's defensive-line rotation after a quiet start to his career.

Chris Baker @cbakerswaggy

Much love to the @Redskins and #RedskinsNation it's been a great 6 yrs hopefully I'll be back #HTTR #SWAGGYTIME #REDSKINSFORLIFE

Ed Cole of the team's official website said Baker "grinded his way from Washington's practice squad onto its active roster" during his six seasons with the team and became one of the most important pieces on the defense in the process.

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Pro Football Focus gave Baker a grade of 82.2 on its free-agency tracker, which was behind only Calais Campbell and Kawann Short at his position.

Baker has been productive and durable in recent years. According to Pro-Football-Reference, he played all 16 games in 2015 and 2016, 15 games in 2013 and 2014 and 14 games in 2012.

He is also just 29 years old and should theoretically have a few prime seasons remaining after signing this deal. Baker has postseason experience (in 2012 and 2015) on his resume and has demonstrated flashes of dominance the last two years.

The Buccaneers needed to make upgrades to their defensive front seven, which Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus ranked as the NFL's 25th-best unit in 2016. 

"The amount of holes that the Bucs continue to field along their defensive line is staggering," Renner wrote. "Robert Ayers made up for that a bit, with 25 combined sacks and hits on the year, but they still were forced to give Davonte Lambert 374 snaps—in return he repaid them with one total pressure all year long."

If Baker's ascent continues, the Buccaneers will look to challenge for a playoff spot in 2017 with him as a key anchor on the defensive line. 

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