Today the Jets continued clearing cap space, as they released tight end Chris Baker. Baker signed a three-year extension last September and was due $9 million in guaranteed money over the next three seasons if he remained on the roster. With Dustin Keller’s emergence during his rookie season, the team’s decision to say goodbye to Baker came as no surprise.
The seven-year veteran set career highs in receptions (41) and receiving yards (409) in 2007, but he struggled last season to repeat his success. Baker recorded only only 21 catches for 194 yards and failed to reach the endzone for the first time since his first full season (2003). The Jets could still re-sign Baker, but he will first test free agency.
While his low production would suggest that the Jets hand the reigns over to Keller, losing Baker’s blocking abilities could be costly. Head coach Rex Ryan plans to feature an all-weather offense based around a power run attack in which having a polished blocking tight end will be imperative. Keller will provide the Jets a surehanded receiver, but he remains inconsistent as a blocker.
If Baker remains unsigned weeks from now, the Jets should come calling again. Then again, only if he chooses to take a pay cut.
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