But he was 25th in base salary, making just $810,000.
Baker, an inside linebacker, was on the field for 84 percent of the Dolphins’ defensive snaps last year, and he outplayed that deal by such a degree that the NFL awarded him an additional $447,000 bonus.
Baker will make more in 2021 than he did in 2020, but he’s still underpaid.
That should be remedied in his next contract.
But maybe just not by the Dolphins.
Baker is in his contract year , and while he’d love an extension, it didn’t sound Friday as if one was particularly close.
“I’m out here, just doing my thing,” Baker said after Friday’s OTA practice, the Dolphins’ last of 2021. “All that stuff is going to figure itself out.”
Have the Dolphins spoken to him about a long-term deal?
“I guess?” Baker said, seemingly without much conviction. “We haven’t really talked about anything. We’re just going into this year.”
He added: “I want to play here the rest of my career. I love it here. I love the fans, I love the organization. I love everyone here. I can definitely see myself playing here a long time.”
Baker is one of a handful of prominent Dolphins players who want a raise, but he’s taking a more team-friendly approach than some of his teammates. Xavien Howard and Emmanuel Ogbah both have stayed away from this spring’s voluntary OTA practices, at least in the three open to reporters.
But Baker, who has had over 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons, has been active participant for each of the past two viewed by reporters.
“I love this team,” he explained. “I love being out here. I love being on this team. Being out here, getting back to football, it ultimately helps me in the long run. The contract stuff’s the contract stuff. I really don’t care for that right now. I honestly just missed being out there with all the guys, especially all the personalities we have, the new guys. And ultimately, just learning and getting better. I love to play football and that obviously is why I’m out here. It’s what I love to do and I just want our team to get better.”
Despite his career year in 2020, Baker knows there’s still room for growth — particularly in the run game.
He missed 10 tackles last year, failing to wrap up on 8.2 percent of his opportunities. But he’s shown real growth in coverage (allowing just 6.1 yards per target) and pass rush (recording a career-high 15 pressures on 99 blitzes).
“I definitely look myself in the mirror and know what I need to do to get better,” Baker said. “For me, locking in on the run game, being one of those linebackers that secures the inside, not just in the pass game but in the run game. Ultimately, I want this defense to be one of the best in the league. We have the coaches, we have the organization behind us. Ultimately, we have to go out as a defense and prove it every game.”
He added: “It’s still early but we can be as great as we want to be. Everyday, we’ve got to go in there in the offseason and get better. Just do what we’ve been doing. Playing great offense, great defense. Just playing as a team. The sky’s the limit, honestly, for this team. We’re young, we’re hungry. We definitely have some things we need to work on, but ultimately if we just play together and play as a team, it definitely can be a good year for us.”