The NFL is temporarily placing New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar on the commissioner’s exempt list with criminal charges pending.
Baker was told to stay away from virtual meetings this spring after Miramar, Florida, police charged him with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Dunbar faces four counts of armed robbery.
Both players are out on bond and were given permission by the court to travel with their work out of state.
Baker and Dunbar are awaiting a decision from the state attorney’s office on whether it intends to prosecute the case.
In the meantime, this will keep Baker, the Giants’ first-round pick last year, and Dunbar, acquired in a trade by Seattle earlier this offseason, away from training camp. The commissioner’s exempt list does allows them to get paid until a decision is made.
Dunbar participated in Seattle’s virtual offseason this spring. Players on the exempt list can request to use team facilities on a “reasonable basis for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities.”
Baker, 23, had arrived in town over the weekend for the start of Giants camp. Veterans are set to report on Tuesday.
His NFL attorney, Patrick Patel, said he saw “no reason” to put his client on the exempt list with the prosecution decision still pending.
The league ultimately decided differently. This was the Giants’ preference with Baker at this point. It allows Baker to handle his legal troubles while not serving as a distraction to the team. He will not be permitted by the team to participate in meetings or non-football activities.
Baker had been working out in Miami recently in preparation for camp.
The Giants traded up for Baker in last year’s draft despite at least two teams telling ESPN last spring there were red flags on the former Georgia All-American. He then had a rocky rookie year on and off the field. Two players described Baker as a “handful” last year and he was benched late in the season after then-coach Pat Shurmur called him out on his effort in front of the entire team.
The Seahawks acquired Dunbar for a fifth-round pick in a March trade with Washington, which was their biggest offseason acquisition until their recent trade for Jamal Adams. Dunbar is scheduled to make $3.25 million in base salary with another $250,000 available in per-game roster bonuses in the final year of his contract, none of which is guaranteed.
Players on the commissioner’s exempt list get paid but do not count against their team’s roster limit. So the Seahawks will get a roster spot but will not get any cap relief with Dunbar while he remains on the list. The Seahawks parted with nine players Sunday to get to 81. With Dunbar going on the exempt list and no longer counting against the roster, Seattle will be at the new league-mandated limit of 80.
If Dunbar is unavailable, the Seahawks would turn back to Tre Flowers, who started the past two seasons at right cornerback opposite Shaquill Griffin. Flowers’ up-and-down 2019 was a primary factor in Seattle acquiring Dunbar.
According to the original arrest warrant, Baker and Dunbar were accused of stealing money and watches with force while armed with semiautomatic firearms. It stated that Baker intentionally threatened victims with a firearm. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, multiple witnesses said at one point during the incident that Baker ordered another suspect wearing a red mask to shoot an individual who was just entering the party.
The case has taken twists and turns since. The witnesses quickly signed affidavits changing their original story, and the New York Daily News reported that a search warrant indicated that a witness in the alleged robbery oversaw a payoff to the victims at the office of former Dunbar attorney Michael Grieco.
The league has said in recent weeks that the matter remains under review.
Baker and Dunbar are not known to have any previous criminal history.
ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.