DeAndre Baker struggled for the majority of his rookie campaign in 2019. Yet, the 1st-round pick out of Georgia showed enough promise down the latter stretch of the season for the New York Giants to remain high on the talented cornerback heading into the future.
However, things have changed drastically for the worse for Baker this offseason. The defender’s latest run-in with the law appears to have been the final straw to break the camel’s back, as the Giants are reportedly set to move on from Baker sooner rather than later.
According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, Big Blue is expected to cut Baker amid accusations that he paid off witnesses to retract their original statements regarding an armed robbery back in May.
Unnamed Giants sources told the Daily News on Friday night that they would not expect corner DeAndre Baker to remain on the team much longer.
The sources said this in direct response to the News’ exclusive report of a search warrant in the case against Baker and Seahawks corner Quinton Dunbar that provided ample evidence allegedly showing a payoff cover-up at the office of Dunbar’s attorney, Michael Grieco.
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A Crushing Blow to Big Blue’s Rebuild
As noted above, the 22-year-old Baker saw his fair share of struggles during his rookie season. A 2019 Pro Football Focus grade of just 48.4 further drives that statement home. With that said, the majority of his poor play came from the team playing him out of his comfort zone.
Following last year’s Week 11 bye, the defense opted to change their philosophy, shifting Baker from a predominantly zone coverage defender to more man-to-man coverage, and the results were promising to say the least.
Over the next four games, Baker had the 6th-best coverage grade among all qualified cornerbacks, according to PFF. Furthermore, quarterbacks targeting Baker over that span only completed 26.3% of their passes, the lowest percentage targeting any cornerback in football.
Baker’s Character Concerns Date Back to His Georgia Days
Despite his improved play down the stretch, Baker’s character concerns continued to peak through. Numerous reports claimed that the corner commonly fell asleep during team meetings, while ESPN’s Jordan Raanan noted that numerous teammates of Baker described the 22-year-old Miami native as a “handful.”
The corner was flagged by multiple teams coming out of Athens due to questions over work ethic and coachability, including the Giants themselves.
According to the New York Post, a source close to New York’s draft thinking informed them that “there was a battle in our building on whether we were going to take DeAndre or not. Because the story was he had to have his a– kicked every day to work hard at Georgia — to even go to practice. We knew that and we still drafted him, and from Day 1 it was like taking a guy in the first round that you had to teach nearly everything to.”
Yet, despite pressing concerns internally, New York’s crapshoot of a secondary forced general manager Dave Gettleman’s hand to trade up in the latter part of the 2019 1st-round to secure Baker’s services.
Thankfully, the Giants are now in a much better place in the secondary than they were a year ago at this time. The additions of free agent James Bradberry, as well as draft picks Darnay Holmes and Xavier McKinney, should exponentially help soften the blow of moving on from Baker.
Still, that doesn’t mean his loss won’t be felt. Despite Baker’s flaws on and off the field, cutting Baker would mean stripping the team of one of their most talented young players. In return, throwing a massive wrench in their secondary’s impressive rebuild.
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