Recently, Dave Gettleman admitted it was “fair” to question why the Giants hadn’t yet cut troubled cornerback DeAndre Baker, but that “in life,” the general manager said “there’s timing involved.”
Well, that timing is … now. Or, soon, at least.
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The Giants intend to move on from Baker this week, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, ending the former first-round pick’s controversial saga with Big Blue after just one season.
Baker was charged with four counts of armed robbery stemming from an alleged incident this summer in Florida. He was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list before training camp, and since then the Giants have planned for life without the 23-year-old. He was originally scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 15, the day after the Giants’ Monday night season opener against the Steelers.
But that arraignment — Baker’s next scheduled court date — has been moved to Jan. 20, according to court records. That likely ended any chance Baker had of playing this season for any team, as the NFL typically waits some resolution to a legal case before taking a player off the exempt list, which is essentially paid leave.
Baker faces a minimum of 10 years (and up to life) in state prison, and the details of his alleged crime — per the police report from the incident, witnesses claim Baker and his accomplices stole (at gunpoint) upwards of $12,800 along with multiple expensive watches from various people attending a cookout in Miramar, Fl. — were a stain on the organization’s reputation.
The Giants’ decision to move on comes a year after multiple reports cited Baker’s immaturity, both coming out of college and as a rookie. He’s been accused of falling asleep in meetings, and was benched for poor effort by Pat Shurmur last year.
“The DeAndre Baker thing was just something we did not see coming,” co-owner John Mara said on Thursday. “I know I’ve read some stories saying there were red flags about him, but not in the sense that you would be concerned about criminal conduct at all. Obviously it’s something that’s embarrassing to the organization, it’s something that we’re going to deal with. It happens from time to time.
“Unfortunately 99.9% of our players are good citizens and this is one that we didn’t see coming and it’s something we’re going to have to deal with.”
So, why did the Giants wind up waiting this long considering Baker was accused of these crimes back in May?
Ultimately, it comes down to finances — the Giants likely are trying to get back some of the bonus money paid to Baker when he signed his rookie contract last year.
Baker’s four-year rookie contract is worth $10.52 million with just over $9 million guaranteed, including a $5.675 million signing bonus.
The Giants could stand to void at least a portion of Baker’s guaranteed money, as they are one of the teams that include a clause pertaining to conduct that reflects poorly on the team. That clause was likely triggered, even without Baker being convicted of a crime.
As of now, if they cut Baker, they’d lose approximately $2.35 million while incurring a total of about $7.6 million in dead cap penalties over the next two years.
Considering the circumstances, and the severity of Baker’s accused crimes, the Giants might be able to get out of some of the money owed to him.
With Baker out of the picture, the Giants haven’t exactly filled that void at cornerback. Baker was expected to start opposite free agent signee James Bradberry. Now, the Giants don’t have Sam Beal — opt-out— available either, leaving it likely that either Corey Ballentine or Isaac Yiadom starts instead. Ballentine is a 2019 sixth-round pick that struggled as a nickel corner last year, while Yiadom was acquired by the Broncos last week, for just a seventh-round pick.
Ultimately, the Baker pick will go down as one of the worst in Giants history, especially considering Gettleman traded up from the second to the first round for the chance to draft him.
The Giants are already paying the price for that at cornerback; now they’re just hoping they don’t have to pay the price financially.
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