Baker signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Bengals on Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Baker was cut by the Buccaneers two weeks earlier after proving to be a massive disappointing in his lone season with Tampa Bay after inking a three-year, $15.75 million contract last spring. He accumulated just 33 tackles and a half sack in 15 games while wearing out his welcome in the locker room, making it an easy decision for the Buccaneers to part ways with him. The 30-year-old could bounce back as he heads to a new defensive system, though he'll have to compete Andrew Billings for playing time next to standout defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
The Buccaneers released Baker on Tuesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports. Baker was a major disappointment for the Buccaneers upon signing a three-year, $15.75 million contract last March. Though the defensive lineman missed just one game, he finished with a half-sack and 33 tackles, his lowest marks in both categories since 2013. Now on the wrong side of 30 years old and coming off a down season, Baker will likely have to settle for a short-term deal with another club this offseason in order to rebuild value.
Baker finished the 2017 season with 33 tackles (24 solo), a half sack and two passes defensed over 15 games. One of the Bucs' major free-agent signings during the past offseason, the energetic veteran was a bit of a disappointment in his first year in Tampa Bay compared to his previous two seasons with the Redskins. Baker had racked up 100 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, three passes defensed, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over that pair of campaigns, but he saw his overall production take a hit while lining up next to perennial Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy in 2017. The Buccaneers defense also surrendered the 10th-most rush yards per contest (117.5) while tallying the fewest sacks (22), so it's safe to say the addition of Baker didn't represent a net gain for the unit. Baker is on the books for $4.9 million in each of the final two seasons of his contract, but he should return to Tampa Bay in 2018 in a rotational role, at the very least.
Baker posted three solo tackles and a pass defensed in Sunday's 34-20 loss to the Falcons. The 30-year-old tackle has uncharacteristically failed to record a sack this season after totaling 9.5 over his last pair of Redskins campaigns. He's continued to be solid against the run, but Baker is also on pace for his lowest tackle total since his second pro campaign in 2013. Given his overall downturn in production, he's largely devoid of any fantasy value at the moment.
Baker (ankle) is active for Sunday's Week 9 tilt against the Saints, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports. The veteran defensive tackle unsurprisingly follows up a pair of full practices to close out the week with active status against the Saints. Baker's veteran presence will be especially valued against a versatile New Orleans offense that has leaned heavier on the run this season than in years' past.