Chiefs Retain Former First-Round Talent for 2022 Season: Report

Deandre Baker

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Deandre Baker (#30) gets beat at training camp in 2021.

Minicamp may have just ended around the NFL — marking the start of summer break for athletes — but moves are still being finalized and the Kansas City Chiefs made another deal official on June 17.

According to ESPN NFL insider Field Yates, “Chiefs CB Deandre Baker has officially signed his exclusive rights free agent tender.”

This tender was originally placed on the former 2019 first-round pick ahead of free agency back in March and should equate to a one-year contract worth $965,000 — per Over the Cap.

ALL the latest Chiefs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Chiefs newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Chiefs!

KC Cornerback Battle Will Be Intense

Baker was always expected to return but now that it’s official, it’s another cornerback in a very crowded training camp battle. The Chiefs loaded up on secondary both in the draft and after it, with undrafted rookie signings.

The current roster includes eight players that profile as CBs, six versatile defensive backs, and four prototypical safeties. That’s 18 men competing for somewhere around eight to 10 spots. When you take out the players that are guaranteed a place on the roster, there’s an even smaller chance of a bubble candidate making the 53.

Barring injury, those sure things are L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill, and top draft picks Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams and Bryan Cook. You can also assume that draft picks like Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson have a decent shot of making it, but they’ll have to earn it as seventh-round selections.

As always, it will come down to a combination of consistency in training camp, special teams contributions, health, personality/culture and overall long-term ceiling among other qualities.

After waiting until mid-June to sign, you have to wonder if Baker was assessing his options. In the end, he came back to the Chiefs and a somewhat level playing field. It won’t be easy but his slight leg up is two years of experience within this system.

He’ll need them because after those seven “guarantees” there might only be two or three spots to be had — a tough proposition for Baker and company (Watson, Nazeeh Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Deon Bush, Chris Lammons, Nasir Greer, Zayne Anderson, Dicaprio Bootle, Brandin Dandridge and Devon Key).

But of course, this is not Baker’s first NFL opportunity.

Follow the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest KC-related daily content, analysis, features and more!

Long Journey Since No. 30 Overall

It’s incredible to think that Baker is only 24 years old and that his NFL career only began in 2019 when the New York Giants drafted him with the No. 30 overall pick. The road from Georgia to Kansas City has been a long one, and nothing has gone as planned.

An All-American in 2018, Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football. He allowed only 175 yards and a 40.2 NFL passer rating that season.

During his rookie campaign with the Giants, Baker allowed 808 passing yards according to Pro Football Focus at an NFL passer rating against of 130.1. He was arrested in May of 2020 under charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm, and placed on the commissioner’s exempt list in July of the same year.

Although those charges were eventually dropped in November of 2020, the Giants decided to waive their first-round selection two months prior in September. That’s when he received his second chance with the Chiefs.

As a player on and off the field, Baker has made improvements since joining KC. Despite that, his passer rating against has hovered around 115.0 the past two years.

With his KC tender being extremely low risk in 2022, it could be an uphill battle for Baker to make the Week 1 roster.


Read More