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Bengals reportedly “likely” to sign former Buccaneers DT Chris Baker

The Bengals may be getting an early start on free agency with a recently-cut defensive tackle.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals may be close to bolstering their defensive line.

According to NBC Sports Washington reporter Chick Hernandez, the Bengals hosted free agent defensive tackle Chris Baker for a visit on Monday. Hernandez adds that Baker is likely to end up signing with the Bengals.

Baker was cut this offseason by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so while he’s an unrestricted free agent, he won’t count against the compensatory draft pick formula. The Bengals figure to get a nice compensatory pick if AJ McCarron signs a big deal with another team this offseason.

But the Bengals can sign players who were cut this offseason and not affect their compensatory picks, which makes guys like Baker an ideal target.

Baker, who is entering his 10th NFL season in 2018, signed with the Bus in the 2017 offseason after a nice six-year career in Washington. He’s played as 4-3 defensive tackle and a 3-4 defensive end, so he’ll probably stick to the former in Cincinnati if a deal gets done.

In 2017, Baker recorded 33 total tackles, two pass deflections and a half a sack in 15 games (14 starts). In his previous two seasons in Washington (2015-16), Baker recorded 100 total tackles, 9.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 32 games (32 starts).

This won’t be the sexy signing Bengals fans are clamouring for, but it would be a nice boost to the defensive line while not risking future compensatory picks. He’d also likely be a replacement for Pat Sims, who is an impending free agent.