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Redskins tender NT Chis Baker; set WR/RS Brandon Banks free

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The Redskins on Monday tendered restricted-free-agent nose tackle Chris Baker a low-level qualifying offer, and they also informed return specialist Brandon Banks they will not re-sign him, according to people who requested anonymity because the Redskins did not publicize the moves.

Baker is free to negotiate with other teams, but the Redskins secured the right to match any offer to which he agrees with another club. The tender is worth $1.32 million for next season, and that amount immediately counts against the Redskins’ penalty-reduced 2013 salary cap.

The low level qualifying offer to which the Redskins tendered Baker means they would not receive any compensation if Baker signed with another team.

Baker, 25, had 26 tackles and one tackle for a loss last season. He played in the final 14 regular season games and the playoff game in his first season with the team.

Behind starting nose tackle Barry Cofield, the Redskins also have veteran free agent Ron Brace, who signed last month, and third-year pro Chris Neild, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Baker has played some defensive end in the past, versatility that could help his roster chances.

Banks is headed for unrestricted free agency after the Redskins opted not to tender him.

The three-year veteran was relieved of his return duties last December and was inactive for the final four regular season games and the playoff game. He played through an injured hip he suffered in Week 3 against Cincinnati, but he also admitted to difficulty diagnosing running lanes. He averaged only 6.8 yards on 26 punt returns last season. His longest punt return was 27 yards, and he did not score a touchdown.

The new rule that advanced the kickoff spot five yards to the 35-yard line limited his return opportunities and, by extension, decreased his value as a return specialist.

Coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen on Monday morning called a press conference for 4:30 p.m. to discuss free agency.

The Redskins entered the weekend $2.1 million over their penalty-reduced salary cap and have since agreed to terms with four restricted free agents, first-string left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and tendered Baker. They must be under the salary cap by 4 p.m. Tuesday. That could require releasing several veterans who make significant contributions to the team.

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