DeAndre Baker’s path back to the NFL was cleared on Monday morning when the Florida State Attorney dropped all charges against him for that alleged armed robbery back in May. It’s possible he’ll still face discipline from the league, but without criminal charges, he’ll eventually be able to play again.
It just won’t be with the Giants.
There is no interest in bringing the 2019 first-round pick back to New York, according to multiple team sources and others familiar with the situation. Baker’s arrest for that armed robbery may have been the catalyst for why the Giants cut the 23-year-old Baker in September, but even the news that he may have been set up and was the victim of extortion isn’t enough to make them revisit that choice.
“No chance,” one team source told SNY. “We know that (drafting him) was a mistake.”
Though the Giants have publicly and privately insisted there was nothing in their pre-draft background checks to suggest Baker was capable of criminal behavior, one source admitted there were still some “character issues” from his days at Georgia that clearly surfaced during his short time in the NFL. Baker’s attitude and work ethic were criticized, even by some teammates, during his rocky rookie season. And while it was his arrest that gave the Giants an excuse to cut him, the source said there were already internal questions about his long-term future with the team.
Several teams have kept tabs on Baker over the last few months, according to one source close to the cornerback. And Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said on Monday that several NFL teams have reached out to him to inquire about Baker, too. But not the Giants. In fact, there has been no contact at all between the Giants and Baker or anyone in his camp since he was released on Sept. 8, according to two sources. And none is expected.
Said a source close to Baker: “We’ve moved on, and so have they.”
The Giants’ concerns about Baker weren’t eased by the news on Monday morning that William Dean, the attorney representing there of Baker’s alleged victims, was arrested by the Broward County (Fla.) Sheriff for trying to extort Baker for more than $800,000 in exchange for a promise that the alleged victims would “stop cooperating with prosecutors … or change their initial sworn statements to police.” That led the Florida State attorney to drop the charges against Baker because the witnesses “have become uncooperative and their credibility is inalterably tarnished.”
Of course, there are still unanswered questions about what Baker was actually doing at the scene of the alleged crime – and if there was an actual crime at all. There is also an ongoing NFL investigation to determine if Baker – who had been on the “commissioner’s exempt list” since July – violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy. That policy is not dependent on a conviction or even criminal charges, so Baker could still end up facing a suspension before he is officially allowed to return to the league.
“We have been monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy,” an NFL spokesman said in a statement. “Baker remains subject to discipline based on results of that investigation. At this time, and following today’s disposition, Baker is eligible to sign with a club.”
And that is his intention, according to Patrick G. Patel, one of his attorneys, who told SNY “100%, we’re coming back to the NFL.”
“He can’t wait to get back in the NFL, get off the exempt list and get rolling,” Patel said. “There’s no reason this shouldn’t happen right away because this kid’s been the victim from the jump."
How soon Baker’s return to the NFL will happen remains unclear, but it’s clear it will be somewhere else.