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How this affects the Falcons and Sam Baker.
Earlier today, the Giants announced a five-year, $38.75 million contract with left tackle Will Beatty, featuring some $19 million in guaranteed money. This is a sizeable contract for a guy who has been solid when not injured and was truly only great for the first time in 2012.
Nonetheless, it begins to set the market. With years of high-level performance, Jake Long and Branden Albert should expect to get more. Sam Baker, meanwhile, should expect to get slightly less. Baker put together a fairly strong year in 2012, but he's never had a season on the level of Beatty's 2012, and teams will be wary of his back issues. I'd say somewhere between $6-7 million per year is probably a reasonable expectation. Baker is capable of being above average, but most of the time he's closer to an average left tackle. That's still a valuable property.
I'm on record believing the Falcons will re-sign Baker, because he's very familiar with the team, he and Matt Ryan are friends and they think he's still got some good football in him. But there's no question that he's going to be reasonably expensive to retain, and the Falcons may look at alternatives. Many have suggested in-house candidates like Mike Johnson and Lamar Holmes, but there are a few lesser left tackle options out there that could be had for cheaper. It's a question of balancing cost with production, though, and I almost always lean toward quality protection as the first priority.
I'd peg Baker at a four year deal worth in the high $20 million range, and I do believe the Falcons will grab him. What say you?