Chris Baker says he’s looking forward to warm winters, not paying state income tax and playing alongside Robert Ayers in Tampa Bay, but the defensive lineman would’ve given all those things up to remain with the Redskins for a seventh season. The problem was Washington was set on going a different direction in free agency.
“It was really hurtful learning that the Redskins didn’t really offer me a contract, being that I was one of their best defensive linemen on their team for the last couple of years and really worked my way up from the practice squad to being one of the best linemen,” Baker told SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Lance Meadow and Phil Savage on Friday. “And for them not to offer me was very hurtful, but I understand it’s a business and I’m very happy to move forward with the Buccaneers and I think I really have a bright future there.”
On the day that his three-year, $15.75 million deal with the Bucs was announced, Baker tweeted that the Redskins never made him an offer. He confirmed that last week during an appearance on ESPN 980’s “Inside the Locker Room.”
“I think they talked a little bit at the combine and said they were going to make an offer Monday or Tuesday, but they never called,” Baker said. “It was an odd feeling, especially being here for so long. The organization really gave me my first chance to get out there and show what I can do, and I worked myself from the practice squad to the best player on the defensive line.”
Perhaps Baker’s hurt feelings contributed to his decision to congratulate Ricky Jean Francois on Twitter after the Redskins released the defensive lineman and locker room leader on Wednesday.
Baker, who appeared in 76 regular season games for the Redskins over the past five seasons, including the past three as a starter, had 4 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2016 after posting a career-high six sacks the year before. “Swaggy” was a fan favorite in Washington and he loved his fans right back.
“I’ll always love you,” Baker said on ESPN 980 said when asked whether he had any parting words for his supporters. “Swaggy will always love D.C. I thank D.C. and the Redskins organization for a great six years here, and honestly if it was up to me, I would’ve love to have stayed, but I’m happy to be where I’m at now and to have another chance to continue my career in this league. I look forward to being in Tampa, but, definitely, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for D.C. and all the D.C. fans.”
One of the things Baker enjoyed about his time in Washington was going to Capitals games. Last Thursday, he had a seat directly behind the glass for the Capitals’ overtime loss to the Predators and especially enjoyed Tom Wilson’s third-period fight with Nashville’s Austin Watson.
— Chris Baker (@cbakerswaggy) March 17, 2017
Let’s just hope Baker doesn’t become a Lightning fan.