Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Bucs DT Chris Baker brings lighthearted drive to win

Chris Baker’s talent can light up a field, and his personality can light up a locker room. Say hello if you run into him.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Chris Baker’s talent can light up a field, and his personality can light up a locker room. Say hello if you run into him.

TAMPA — The Bucs are excited about what new DT Chris Baker will bring on the field — 9½ sacks, five forced fumbles and 100 tackles the past two years with Washington — and fans will like the lighthearted personality he will bring to the locker room.

"I think I'm a funny guy. I like to dance a lot," Baker said Saturday as he was introduced at One Buc Place after signing a three-year deal reportedly worth $18 million. "But I like to win. … I'm always that guy that plays around probably a little bit too much, but that's just me. I've never been ultraserious."

Baker, 29, can help the Bucs at nose tackle —next to Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy — and at the three-technique when McCoy isn't in the game since Baker's confident he can help against the run and as a pass-rusher. He grew up a Warren Sapp fan, brings a big smile — much like the Bucs great did — and has been known for years as "Swaggy" to his teammates.

"I like to have fun. I have a great personality. I'm easy to talk to," he said. "If you see me on the street, say 'Hello' and I'll say 'Hello' back."

Asked about the biggest influences in his decision to choose the Bucs, Baker half-joked that "it was up to me and my family, and obviously there's no state taxes here." More seriously, he said he's always wanted to move to sunny Florida and to be a part of an "elite" defense. "I love Florida," he said. "I've always said I wanted to make my forever home here. This is what I prayed for, to be here."

Safety dance

By agreeing to terms with Cowboys free agent J.J. Wilcox on a two-year free deal Saturday, the Bucs have set up a three-way competition for the two starting safety jobs in 2017, along with returning players Chris Conte and Keith Tandy.

"He's going to compete for a starting role, along with Chris, along with Keith," GM Jason Licht said. "He's a really hard-hitting, physical player that really still has an upside at safety."

Wilcox, 26, started playing safety in his senior year at Georgia Southern, spending his first two seasons as a receiver and his junior year as a running back. He rushed for 115 yards and two scores against Western Carolina in a 2011 game, then had 88 tackles the next year in his first work at safety.

He was drafted in the third round by the Cowboys, starting 29 of 32 games in 2014-15 and getting career highs of 74 tackles and three interceptions in 2014. He started only four games last season but comes in with a starter's expectations as the highest paid of the three veterans.

One more signing

DT Sealver Siliga, 26, who had five tackles and a sack in six games last season, was brought back. He will battle for the fourth defensive tackle spot behind McCoy, Baker and Clinton McDonald. The Bucs also re-signed DB Josh Robinson to a two-year deal.

They said it

"It's weird that I'm back here, because during the whole (predraft) process (in 2009), my only visit from a team was to Tampa … during the draft process, probably one of the hardest times of my life because I felt like no one wanted me. Turn around eight, nine years, you know, I'm here as a Buccaneer. It can't be a better feeling."

Chris Baker, new Bucs defensive tackle, who went undrafted out of Division I-AA Hampton in 2009

New Bucs DT Chris Baker brings lighthearted drive to win 03/11/17 [Last modified: Saturday, March 11, 2017 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays vs. Orioles, 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Orioles

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  2. ABC Racing kennel advances three into semifinals

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — The maiden voyage by Don Burk into the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby series — his first as the ABC Racing kennel owner — went as easy as ABC.

  3. Bullpen melts down as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jacob Faria allowed his first two big-league home runs and was touched for a career-high three runs Saturday by the Orioles. Other than that, the rookie making his fourth major-league start did okay against the Baltimore bats.

    The bullpen, not so much.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Baltimore Orioles scored four runs during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 24, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD118
  4. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  5. Lightning journal: Russian forwards top Day 2 draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the draft was headlined by a few skilled Russian forwards.

    Canadiens rookie defenceman Mikhail Sergachev with Brian and Michelle Reid, the billet family he lived with while playing for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last season. COURTESY OF BRIAN AND MICHELLE REID