When the Kansas City Chiefs chose to release 2021 contributor Deandre Baker before the first preseason game, it was somewhat surprising. Few had the former first-round cornerback making the 53-man roster for KC but most expected him to make it to the final cutdown at least.
Baker was outmatched by a 2022 rookie class that brought in four cornerbacks and even more defensive backs. Considering the No. 30 overall selection of 2019 is only 24 years of age, that’s pretty telling that the Chiefs gave up on him so soon.
Having said that, a draft status of that nature tends to open doors and Baker could receive another opportunity as soon as this summer.
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Baker Works out for Cardinals
The NFC West playoff contender has already signed three ex-Chiefs players this offseason — running back Darrel Williams, linebacker Ben Niemann, and cornerback Josh Jackson. If they end up finalizing a deal with Baker, that would make four.
Arizona also happens to be hosting Kansas City in Week 1, although it’s a little early to be looking at playbook spies.
More likely, the Cardinals are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle at an area of need. General manager Brett Veach had the same thought with the same two draft busts — Jackson and Baker. As stated above, draft status tends to open doors but it does not guarantee a comeback.
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Chiefs’ New Plan Has Yielded Better Results
Instead of continuously taking fliers on cornerback washouts, the Chiefs’ front office attacked the secondary with a new strategy in 2022 — a youth movement. This plan comes with risk as well but so far in training camp, the early results have been promising.
Trent McDuffie leads the class and after a slow start, the first-round draft pick has turned a corner in recent practices, no pun intended. Fourth-rounder Joshua Williams has been even more impressive, catching the media’s eye as a potential “day-three gem.”
That’s been one of the more intriguing battles of Chiefs camp. The new-look KC WR corps going up against the equally remodeled cornerback unit.
With established professionals on both sides of the football like JuJu Smith-Schuster, L’Jarius Sneed, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman and Rashad Fenton — who just returned from injury — the youngsters can only stand to grow and get better with every rep.
Unfortunately, that left no room for a struggling shot in the dark like Baker. It will be interesting to see if a similarly failed prospect like Lonnie Johnson Jr. makes the team in 2022. The former second-round selection of the Houston Texans appears motivated to buck the trend of recent Veach fliers gone wrong.
Beating out Baker was the first step, but there are still more trials and tribulations to come.