The New Orleans Saints recently received some news that they did not want to hear. Second-year wide receiver Kawaan Baker was suspended from the league for six games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Baker did not see the field much last season. He did not take an offensive start over the course of his rookie season, however, he did take part in the Saint’s return team. He took 27 snaps over the course of the year, all 27 of them coming from special teams. Baker played in 51% of the team’s total special teams snaps over the season. It is clear that Baker was doing everything he could to set himself up to make a big jump this season. He was a 7th-round pick by the Saints in the 2021 draft and had to fight to keep a roster spot coming into this year. While the reasoning behind why he took the substances were taken have not been disclosed, it can be assumed that Baker either accidentally took a banned substance that he did not know was illegal, or he took the substances to try to get a step ahead of the rest of the league and hopefully break into the offensive lineup.
Was the Suspension Fair?
There is an argument that could be made for this suspension length being unfair. Although the Deshaun Watson case is now back in appeals court after the NFL appealed his initial suspension, he was also initially given a six-game suspension. No matter your stance on how PEDs negatively affect the game, it would be impossible to argue that if what is accused of Watson is true, he deserves as light of a suspension as someone who got caught taking a performance-enhancing substance. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins also received a suspension this offseason for taking a banned substance. He was also given six games for his offense. In the grand scheme of things, Baker’s suspension may be a little long when compared to the offense, however, his suspension is the precedent for a PED suspension.
What This Means For Kawaan Baker and the New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints will not miss Baker on the field too much. As previously mentioned he was mainly a player on the return team, and even then, he played in half of the team’s special teams snaps. Although he could have made a big jump into the offensive lineup this season, that door has likely shut for this season unless injuries run rampant through the Saint’s receiving room. This suspension could be a massive blow to Baker’s career. He is a replaceable player for the Saints right now. He was only a 7th-round pick in his draft class and many times, players picked in this round struggle to even last a single season in the league. With Baker mostly being a practice squad player at his natural position of wide receiver and the Saints bringing in some other receivers in this year’s draft, this may be Baker’s final season with the Saints unless he can find his way onto the field and make some big plays.