Sam Baker can't like hearing about all the offensive linemen the Falcons have eyed recently. They're gearing up for the draft, while Baker's still recovering from injury. Sure, he's under contract for 5 more years. And sure, in those 5 years, he's due another $38.1 million. But remember, this is the NFL, where contracts aren't guaranteed and your cap hit can't vastly exceed your value.
Baker's contract was very team-friendly in 2013. Its base was just $1 million. With his $10 million signing bonus spread out equally over the first 5 years of his deal, Baker's cap hit was only $3 million. Not bad, especially given his production in 2012. But then 2013 happened, and Baker once again struggled with injury.
Baker played 190 snaps in 2013, less than a third of the offensive snaps taken by the Falcons. Weeks 1, 2, and 4 (3 of the 4 games he played in) were an absolute train wreck, as he gave up a sack, 6 quarterback hits, and 10 quarterback hurries. Those 3 games gave him 140 of his 190 snaps, and they really epitomized the problem with his play. Think about this, over those three games, he was screwing up 12 percent of the time, roughing once every 10 snaps. Injury or not, Baker is downright schizophrenic on the football field.
In short, Baker has no choice in 2014. He must produce. If he doesn't, you wouldn't blame the Falcons if they chose to move on. They'd be responsible for about $9 million in dead money, if they cut him. That's a sacrifice I think the Falcons would make. In the alternative, he'd have a $7.3 million cap hit in 2015.
Nothing against Baker as a person. He's got a mighty beard and I'll always remember my excitement after the Falcons drafted him and Matt Ryan together in 2008. But he's got responsibility, and if he can't get the job done, someone else will.