The Kansas City Chiefs are doing their diligence in retaining some of their cornerback depth ahead of free agency.
Kansas City is planning to tender exclusive rights free agent cornerback Deandre Baker, according to Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star.
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Baker’s Rebound After Rough Start in NFL
As a former first-round pick of the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft, Baker was cut by the Giants in September of 2020 following him being prosecuted for robbery and gun charges earlier in the year. However, all gun charges were dropped against Baker in November of the same year, per ESPN. That sparked Kansas City signing him later in the month to its practice squad.
Baker played in a total of two games for the Chiefs during the 2020 season, according to Pro Football Reference. His season came to a halt when he suffered a broken leg in the team’s Week 17 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
During the 2021 season, Baker played eight games and started one of them. He recorded his highest PFF grade of the season in his lone start, which came in Week 4 during a win over the Philadelphia Eagles (74.9).
Broncos’ Trade Makes KC’s Secondary a Top Priority
Re-tooling the secondary was on the list of priorities for the Chiefs entering the offseason. However, the Denver Broncos’ blockbuster trade for quarterback Russell Wilson on March 8 makes the re-tooling of the defensive backfield even more important.
After Kansas City used its franchise tag on starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson reported that Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu and the Chiefs are expected to part ways after four seasons. That, paired with Charvarius Ward, Daniel Sorensen, Mike Hughes, Chris Lammons, and Armani Watts prepared to test free agency means the Chiefs need to address their safety and cornerback depth either through free agency, the draft, or both.
“Knowing that we have a good offensive line in place, defensive line probably makes the most sense, and through the defensive backfield and what have you,” general manager Brett Veach said during his press conference on February 1. “I think the defensive side is one that we’ll probably focus on right off the bat.”
A page on the OverTheCap website shows what each team’s cap space would look like for the 2022 season if they restructured all their current contracts by converting “scheduled payments such as base salary or roster bonuses into signing bonuses that are prorated equally across the length of the contract, over a maximum of five years,” per the website.
For Kansas City, if they were to do “simple restructures,” they would have $59 million in available cap space. If they were to do “maximum restructures,” they would have $90.1 million in available cap space. Those numbers don’t exemplify how much money the team will actually free up this offseason to spend. However, it tells us the kind of flexibility the Chiefs have with their current player contracts.
If Kansas City wants to continue contending for championships in a division that now includes Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr, they need to upgrade their secondary for the 2022 season. Retaining Baker is one small step towards that goal, however, more steps need to be taken.