The Kansas City Chiefs rebuilt nearly their entire secondary this offseason, and a familiar face is no longer a part of the team. Per Adam Teicher of ESPN, the club has released cornerback Deandre Baker.
The Chiefs released CB DeAndre Baker, a former first-round pick by the Giants. He was down on the depth chart after the Chiefs drafted Trent McDuffie, Josh Williams and Jaylen Watson and traded for Lonnie Johnson.
Baker, who signed to the Chiefs' practice squad back in November of 2020, was inching closer to two full years in Kansas City at the time of his release. The former New York Giants first-round pick from 2019 came into town looking for a fresh start following off-the-field troubles that led to the end of his tenure in New York. He accomplished the feat of hitting the reset button in Kansas City, although he never quite managed to break out on the field. His Chiefs career began with a broken left femur in the club's final regular-season game of the 2020-21 campaign.
In 10 games with the Chiefs (two starts) over the course of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Baker logged 21 tackles (one for loss) while recording two passes broken up and one sack. He played 35% of the team's defensive snaps in 2020, then raised that number to 39% last season. He also contributed on special teams, playing 20 and 25% of those snaps, respectively, with the Chiefs during those two seasons. Last year saw Baker post a 60.0 composite Pro Football Focus grade.
Back in June of this year, Baker signed his exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) tender with the Chiefs. That all but ensured that he'd be back with the team for another run, although that run came up well short of the regular season or playoffs. Still looking for his first career interception, Baker now hits the open market also looking for a statement season that can get his previous career arc back on track. Baker will turn just 25 years old in September.
What does this mean for the Chiefs?
Just last week, Zack Eisen of Arrowhead Report wrote about the insane amount of competition within the Chiefs' cornerback room. He described Baker as a "long shot" to make the final 53-man roster, saying the following about the young defensive back:
Outside of Sneed, Deandre Baker is the only cornerback with experience playing in Spagnuolo’s system. Experience is typically positive in these positional battles, but it is a disservice to Baker. Last season, the Chiefs chose to continuously play Mike Hughes and other cornerbacks instead of putting Baker on the field. As a result, he is truly on the outside looking in. Unless he impresses in a big way during training camp and the preseason, it will be nearly impossible for Baker to crack the roster.
The Chiefs have plenty of prominent cornerbacks projected to fit into this year's depth chart. At the top, L'Jarius Sneed and first-round pick Trent McDuffie should slot into two of the premier starting roles. McDuffie will be pushed by Rashad Fenton, however, who is still on the physically unable to perform list but has played starting-caliber football for a few years in a row. Fourth-round pick Joshua Williams is turning heads at training camp, and the Fayetteville State product has the combination of length and athleticism to be a serious threat to gain playing time in year one.
Outside of Williams, the duo of Lonnie Johnson and Dicaprio Bootle is fighting for roster spots. Rookies Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson can also be lumped in there, although the latter was drafted as a safety and faces an uphill battle to avoid roster cuts. Baker and Chris Lammons were re-signed this offseason, although Baker's fate has been decided and Lammons' odds of making the team aren't looking terrific at this point in time.