Disgruntled TE Baker stands by comments about contract
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Disgruntled tight end Chris Baker spent most of the New York Jets' minicamp Friday on a stationary bike. There was no backpedalling, though, from his scathing comments a day earlier about his contract dispute with the team.
"I wanted to actually just have it done quietly and just come out here and play and not worry about anything," said Baker, who tweaked his back early in the morning practice and was on the bike for the afternoon session. "I kind of have been forced into this position."
Baker, who has asked to be traded, is angry because he insists the Jets told his former agent, Cliff Brady, before last season that they would look into re-doing his contract. His deal currently has two years remaining, but has said the Jets refuse to revisit the contract.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum said Thursday that he and Baker "have a difference of opinion about those conversations." Baker flatly shot down that contention Friday.
"If you want to believe that, you can," he said. "There would be no reason for me to come out and lie."
Baker, who had career highs with 41 catches and 409 yards last season, was asked if perhaps he was faking the injury Friday to send a message.
"You talk about injuries, I took three injections in my back last season," said Baker, who missed a game last season because of his back. "This was at a point when we were 1-7. If anyone questions whether I want to be on the field, that's up to them. I could've easily packed it in last year, but I didn't do that."
Baker was fronted about $700,000 of this year's salary before last season after the team approached him about doing so to help relieve the salary cap. Some might say that could've been viewed a goodwill gesture by the team, virtually guaranteeing him a spot on the roster this season.
"I guess you could perceive it that way, but it was more beneficial to the team," he said. "They asked me to do it and I agreed to do it."
The situation is eerily similar to what happened with guard Pete Kendall last season. Kendall, who has the same agents as Baker, sulked throughout minicamp and training camp last year, repeatedly expressing his desire to be traded if his contract wouldn't be redone. Kendall was eventually dealt to Washington before the season, and Baker warned that he won't be the last to have to have a contract dispute with the Jets.
"Guys are definitely watching," he said. "I'm not going to say any names, but I can guarantee you, after this is all said and done, there will be someone out here next year and the following year because of the way things are handled here. My advice to guys would be, if you're going to do anything with this organization, get it in writing because things may be said with a wink and the next thing you know, they claim something was misconstrued."
NotesThe Jets signed wide receiver Marcus Henry, their sixth-round pick out of Kansas, and waived long snapper Nick Jarvis. Henry is the second of the team's six draft selections to sign, joining offensive lineman Nate Garner, New York's seventh-round pick out of Arkansas.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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