The Kansas City Chiefs plan to extend a tender offer to cornerback Deandre Baker, who entered this offseason as an exclusive-rights free agent. The news was first reported by friend-of-the-site Herbie Teope of The Kansas City Star.
The Chiefs plan to extend a tender offer ERFA CB Deandre Baker before March 16, the start of the NFL's new calendar year, per source.— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) March 10, 2022
Baker appeared in eight regular-season games with one start for the Chiefs in 2021.
As a reminder, an exclusive rights free agent is any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If the Chiefs offer Baker a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), Baker cannot negotiate with other teams.
The Chiefs acquired Baker, 24, back in November 2020, signing him to their practice squad after his release by the New York Giants. Baker was said to have been coming along nicely before breaking his femur in the team’s Week 17 game against the Los Angeles Chargers that season. Despite the injury, Baker showed enough for the Chiefs to bring him back on a reserve/futures contract last offseason.
In 2021, Baker made the Chiefs’ initial 53-man roster — and he appeared in eight games (1 start), registering 16 tackles (13 solo) and a pass defensed over 211 defensive snaps. He also added 11 special-teams snaps.
Then-Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison spoke to Baker’s progress since his injury in mid-October.
“When you’re talking about injures, I don’t really care what it is, going in and having an orthoscopic surgery, it’s going to take some time,” said Madison. “Just to be able to see him come back and watching him throughout the course of the offseason and he’s sending video showing that he was running, was mind-blowing. Same thing with a few other of our players, but finally now he’s able to get the strength back because he really couldn’t put that much weight on it or be able to lift weights, squats, hang cleans and all those things (strength and conditioning )coach (Barry) Rubin will have you able to do.
“[Baker’s] finally started to get into it, but once again picking him up late in the season, not understanding our system, not really understanding techniques and going through the regiment that coach (Andy) Reid has of long drive drills and different types of things. He really hasn’t had an opportunity to do it, but he’s learning, he’s picking it up. These are the guys that we have, and we just have to coach these guys up as much as possible and put him in a situation where he can be successful.”
Madison has since moved onto the Dolphins, but defensive backs coach Dave Merritt returning in Kansas City should provide consistency for the former first-round pick entering his third season with the Chiefs.
Many players will say it takes about a year to fully feel like themselves after a leg injury, and perhaps that will be the case for Baker. With a veteran cornerback Charvarius Ward potentially pricing himself out of Kansas City — and with a lot of holes to fill — the Chiefs could use a cheap solution at defensive back.