The Jets will release Chris Baker according to Dave Hutchinson, citing a locker room source.
Baker, who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Jets, signed a three-year extension with the club last November in which he was quaranteed $9 million between 2009-2011 if he was on the roster on March 5.
The Jets, however, didn't close the door on Baker. They have told him that they're interested in re-signing him in free agency after he tests the market and sees what is out there.
A return does not seem very likely. Baker wanted a bigger contract after last season and will now have to take less to remain with Gang Green. He is a good route runner, probably underutilized during his time with the Jets, which means he will probably be able to find starting work somewhere in the league and have no interest coming back to Florham Park in a reduced role.
The emergence of Dustin Keller made this move almost a formality. Keller was productive as a rookie and played his way into a starting role. While Chris would have provided good depth, the roughly $2 million the Jets will save on the cap is more valuable than he would have been as a reserve. This team can use it to address a more glaring hole. Backup tight ends are used mainly for tasks like run blocking. The role is even less important for a team that relies extensively on spread formations like the Jets. It will not be too hard to find somebody else to back Keller up.
Of course, if Keller gets injured in the preseason, the Jets might regret this.