DeAndre Baker is in a lot of trouble and is facing an uncertain future, to say the least. His NFL career is obviously hanging by a thread. His freedom is in serious jeopardy, too.
The announcement by the Miramar (Fla.) Police Department on Thursday that they had issued an arrest warrant for the Giants cornerback was just the beginning of what could be a long and painful process for the 22-year-old former first-round pick, who turned himself in to police on Saturday morning.
Here, with the help of some legal and NFL sources, is a look at what Baker is facing and what comes next:
What are the charges?
Baker, according to the arrest warrant issued on Thursday night, is going to be charged with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. With the help of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and an unnamed, masked accomplice, Baker is accused of robbing four men of a total of $12,400 in cash and $61,000 worth of watches. The warrant said he used a semi-automatic weapon in the robberies. One witness said he also told the unnamed accomplice to shoot the victims (though the warrant does not mention any shots being fired or any injuries to the victims).
What is the legal penalty?
According to Florida's "10-20-Life" law, each count of armed robbery carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, but that is escalated to 15 years if a "semi-automatic weapon" is involved, which is alleged here. So that would be a minimum of 60 years just on those counts. The counts of aggravated assault with a firearm has no mandatory minimum, just a maximum sentence of five years in prison per count.
So if he's guilty, he's going to jail for a long time then? Not necessarily. One Florida-based attorney told SNY that a prosecutor has the ability to waive the mandatory minimum and seek a lesser sentence. There is, of course, always the possibility of pleading down to a lesser charge.
Was he released on bail?
Yes. At a hearing on Sunday morning, a judge granted bail at $200,000 -- $25,000 for each of the eight counts. Baker also has to turn over his gun and his permit and he's not permitted to have any contact with the alleged victims before the trial. For now, he can't leave the state of Florida, but the judge said he would revisit that if Baker has to leave for work (i.e. if the NFL re-opens and he's still eligible to come back). Notably, though, the judge said the State could still file a motion to ask that Baker be held in custody until the trial. It's not clear if that will happen, but the State did ask for "no bond" in the hearing.
Why did it take so long for him to turn himself in?
Well, the police wanted him to do it immediately, of course. But according to a Miramar Police Department spokesman they were in touch with his lawyer, Bradford Cohen, who alluded to discussions with police in one of his Instagram posts. One legal source said the lawyer was likely negotiating the terms of Baker turning himself in -- everything from doing it quietly, away from the media, and an expedited bail hearing, if possible.
In the meantime, what are the Giants going to do with him? Probably nothing at the moment. So far they are following the standard playbook for dealing with arrests. They issued a statement that said nothing and then they closed ranks. If they continue to follow that, they will wait for the legal process to play itself out and let the NFL take the lead on any investigation and discipline. There may come a point when they'll have to decide whether to keep him or cut him, but that's likely a long ways away.
Would they cut him?
Maybe eventually, especially if the details get out and are even uglier than what is known so far. Obviously, the Giants don't want to dump a talented young player, especially a year after they traded into the first round to draft him. But they might eventually feel they have no choice. It just probably won't happen until the legal system runs its course and the NFL takes the initial shot at discipline.
What are the cap ramifications of cutting him?
Baker is entering the second year of a $10.5 million rookie contract. He already got a $5.67 million signing bonus and he's due $973,442 in salary this season, all of which is guaranteed. At minimum, cutting Baker would cost the Giants an extra $2.3 million against the cap this season, and he'd leave a lot of dead money on their books over the next two years. However, they'd likely try to negotiate all that down and possibly try to recoup some of his signing bonus.
What is the NFL going to do?
At the very least, it seems certain that the NFL will place Baker on the "Commissioner's exempt list," which is basically paid leave and it's used to prevent players accused of violent crimes from being active while their cases are pending. It also conveniently takes such decisions out of teams' hands. Baker eventually would be subject to discipline under the NFL's Personal Conduct policy, even if he pleads down to a lesser charge or if charges are dropped. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that would be decided by a neutral third party jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Commissioner Roger Goodell is no longer the judge and jury for that.
Has Baker said anything yet?
No. But his lawyer has now issued two lengthy statements on his Instagram account. The first said "We have had affidavits from several witnesses that also dispute the allegations and exculpate our client." In fact, he claims to have had them for "some time." And he added "We believe our client is innocent of any charges." He also apparently alluded to "video evidence" in a since-deleted post. He's also cautioned everyone "Don't rush to judgement." Notably, though, he only presented one of those affidavits in the bail hearing, holding the others back as "a little strategic defense issue." and never mentioned any video evidence.
Have the Giants said anything yet?
Just a bland statement through their PR department that said "We are aware of the situation. We have been in contact with DeAndre. We have no further comment at this time."
Should they say anything more?
They are probably right not to say anything now, since we likely don't have anywhere near all the facts yet. But eventually, yes, they need to say something. And they all do -- John Mara, Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge.
Hopefully they learned something from how they mishandled the Josh Brown affair -- when they re-signed their kicker despite a domestic violence arrest, only to cut him once the media unearthed all the sordid details. They let Ben McAdoo, their young coach, take the lead publicly and he ended up praising Brown's character though he clearly didn't know all the details of what happened. Then, when the details came out, Mara and then-GM Jerry Reese refused to say anything for more than a week.
Now's not the time, but they can't wait forever. If they decide to stand by a player who is accused of using a gun to rob people and ordering the victims to be shot, they owe it to everyone to explain why. Hiding behind statements will make them look terrible, again.
The bottom line
Will Baker ever play for the Giants again? It's hard to predict, and he is of course innocent until proven guilty. But if the accusations in that warrant hold up -- and there are multiple witnesses, including someone who has known Baker since he was a child - it's hard to imagine that he will, even if he escapes jail time. Sports teams are often tolerant of criminal behavior - especially for players with talent -- and the Giants have been no exception over the years. It's certainly possible that, if he's granted his freedom, they'd welcome him back and sell it as a chance for redemption. But you'd have to think that some of these allegations cross a line they just won't want to cross, even for a player with Baker's potential.