Chris Baker joined the Washington Redskins' practice squad in September 2011 as a practice squad nose tackle, unsure exactly where he'd fit in the NFL after bouncing around the previous two years with the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins.
Now, after three seasons with the Redskins, he knows exactly where he'll be. Baker signed a three-year, $12 million contract on Thursday and will avoid becoming an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 11. According to his agent, $4 million of Baker's salary is guaranteed.
"I'm pleased to get everything done," Baker said by telephone Thursday afternoon. "I always wanted to stay in Washington. You know, it just feels good to see where I've come from, as an undrafted free agent, to get to this point. It's a blessing and it's a dream come true."
Baker played in 15 games, starting three, for the Redskins this past season. He played primarily as a defensive end, and stepped in as the starter late in the season after Stephen Bowen was diagnosed with torn cartilage in his right knee.
Sweetening the return to Washington was the fact that the Redskins' defensive scheme won't change much under new coach Jay Gruden. The Redskins retained defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive line coach Jacob Burney, and that comforted Baker that he would still be able to develop within the Redskins' 3-4 defensive scheme.
"This is a defense I've been in for the last three years, so the fact that I don't have to learn a new defense is really good," Baker said. "I'm comfortable within the defense the way it is now, so hopefully, I can keep excelling and getting better."
Baker was one of four players Haslett mentioned during the last week of January the Redskins hoped to re-sign. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, another of the four, agreed to a new four-year contract last week, while negotiations are ongoing with outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and inside linebacker Perry Riley.
Eighteen other players who finished the 2013 season with the Redskins are set to become unrestricted free agents next month.
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