Needing to get down to the mandatory 75-player limit by Tuesday, the San Diego Chargers released 10 players on Sunday. Though there were no real surprises, one mild surprise was the release of second-year running back Edwin Baker. Though he may not have made the final roster anyway, Baker at least should have been given one last opportunity to prove himself in the final preseason game.
Baker, a seventh-round pick in 2012, hasn’t played much this preseason but showed some flashes, gaining 57 yards on 11 carries. With a low center of gravity, the 5-foot-8, 200-pound thumper had the ability to be an effective downhill, short-yardage back for the Bolts. And given Ryan Mathews’ injury history, the Bolts may need to keep an extra running back on their roster as insurance if (or in his case, when) Mathews goes down with an injury.
The bigger surprise though is that the Chargers kept undrafted rookie Michael Hill over Baker. Hill wasn’t shown nearly as much promise in preseason so far, gaining just 19 yards on 9 carries. Though Hill likely won’t make the final roster either, the Chargers should’ve kept Baker and dumped veteran running back Ronnie Brown instead.
Brown was a pretty effective third-down back last season, but was barely utilized in the running game. With his third-down role likely going to Danny Woodhead, Brown doesn’t seem to have much of a role heading into the season. Baker, as well as Fozzy Whittaker, appeared to be the better pure runners who could be more effective in the run game than Brown. Brown, 31, is essentially a carbon copy of Woodhead expect older and with little upside at this point in his career. If the Chargers are building for the future, Baker would’ve been the better player to keep.
It would’ve been nice to see Baker stick around a little longer. There’s still the possibility that he gets signed to the practice squad, but being part of the first round of cuts doesn’t sound too promising for him. Baker may need to search elsewhere to keep his NFL dream alive.
The Chargers currently have 80 players on their roster, meaning five more cuts will happen Tuesday. Rosters must be trimmed down to 53 by Friday, one day after San Diego’s final preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.