The Cincinnati Bengals got a head start on free agency Wednesday by signing veteran defensive tackle Chris Baker, according to the team’s website.
The deal, first reported by the NFL Network, is for one year and worth $3 million.
Because Baker, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder, was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 20, he was eligible to sign with another team before free agency officially begins with the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. next Wednesday.
The reason for Baker’s release in Tampa Bay, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, is similar to another castoff the Bengals signed earlier this year, former New York Giants offensive tackle Bobby Hart.
According to Laine’s report, Baker’s lack of effort in practice was a constant issue.
The 30-year-old Baker entered the league with Denver in 2009 as an undrafted free agent. He played one season for the Broncos and one for Miami before signing with Washington. After one season on the practice squad in 2011, Baker appeared in 76 games in five seasons from 2012-16.
He signed a three-year, $15.8 million deal last offseason with Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers were willing to part ways after just one season.
“I’m back with people who believe in me. Happy to move forward,” Baker told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
Chris Baker tells me he is back at home in Tampa now, hoping to sign a deal tonight. "I'm back with people who believe in me. Happy to move forward," Baker just told me. #Bengals @CHICKatNBCS on— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 7, 2018
new team first. #NFL free agency. https://t.co/mcguytfApF
Baker’s move to Cincinnati reunites him with defensive line coach Jacob Burney, who worked with him in Washington from 2011-14. Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett also was on the Redskins staff at the time.
The addition gives the Bengals some more depth on the interior defensive line with the Bengals expected to let 10-year veteran Pat Sims leave in free agency.
Baker is expected to compete with 2016 fourth-round pick Andrew Billings, 2017 fourth-round pick Ryan Glasgow for the spot alongside Pro Bowler Geno Atkins.
Defensive end Chris Smith also played inside at times, but he is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.