Baker and Dolphins Contract Extensions

Linebacker Jerome Baker became the 11th player to sign a contract extension with Miami since the start of 2019, but who's next?
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Linebacker Jerome Baker became Sunday the second Miami Dolphins player to sign a contract extension, joining fellow 2018 draft class member Jason Sanders.

It marked the 11th time since 2019 when Brian Flores took over as head coach and began working with GM Chris Grier that the Dolphins had signed a player to an extension, and they did twice with DeVante Parker that first year when they restructured before he played on his fifth-year option.

The question now is whether the Dolphins will be adding to that total before the start of the 2021 season.

One thing for sure, it's not as though they're lacking for options.

The signing of Baker means one less player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, but the Dolphins still have 21 of those players.

The most prominent of the group include defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, tight end Mike Gesicki, wide receiver Albert Wilson, tight end Durham Smythe, and wide receiver Will Fuller V.

Fuller is among the 13 veteran newcomers who joined the Dolphins this offseason on one-year contracts. For anybody wondering, yes, that is a very high number.

That Baker was the second one after Sanders to get an extension shouldn't have come as a surprise based on a couple of factors.

When you add the combination of Baker's versatility for the Miami defense, his steady improvement every year and his age — he'll turn only 25 on Christmas Day — he represented exactly the kind of player you want to lock up for a longer term.

The selection of tight end Hunter Long in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft has given the Dolphins a lot of depth at the position, which has afforded them the ability to be patient and carefully evaluate their options when it comes to Gesicki and Smythe.

As with everything, contract demands will play a role in whatever happens, but just because Baker got what can be considered a lucrative deal — three year, $39 million with $28 million guaranteed, per multiple reports — his circumstances again were different.

Some might argue that Gesicki is a better tight end than Baker is a linebacker (not in this camp here), but Baker is more valuable because of what the Dolphins have at both positions.

So don't be surprised if the Dolphins let things play out in 2021 before they decide on a long-term move at tight end.

When it comes to Ogbah, he's coming off a career year with nine sacks after a previous high of 5.5 in his first four NFL seasons and he clearly was the team's best pass rusher.

But the question absolutely must be asked — and no doubt has been evaluated by Dolphins coaches and management — as to whether his breakout performance was an aberration or the start of something big and how much the Dolphins' scheme played a role in Ogbah's numbers.

It's possible the Dolphins will want to see whether Ogbah can repeat his success of 2020 before they make a long-term commitment to him, though that carries the risk of Ogbah's price tag going up or him wanting to test the free agent market, though the Dolphins always would have the option of using the franchise tag on him.

Back to Baker, he joined Xavien Howard and Parker as the only Dolphins picks in the first three rounds since 2013 to get a second contract with Miami.