The Giants remain confident no red flags were missed in scouting DeAndre Baker, but they are close to waving a white flag on his career nonetheless.
Baker, 22, remains on the roster but away from the team as he is on the NFL’s Commissioner’s Exempt List while awaiting a Jan. 20 court date in Florida on four counts of armed robbery stemming from his arrest in May. He could face life in prison if convicted.
General manager Dave Gettleman, in his first comments since the incident, said Wednesday the Giants are “still in conversations” about whether to retain Baker until the legal process is resolved. But that is more of a contractual sticking point — a release is expected before then — sources told The Post.
Given Gettleman’s premium emphasis on culture and chemistry, even at the risk of sacrificing talent, why not just cut Baker to send a message of a zero-tolerance policy against such allegations?
“That’s a fair question,” Gettleman said. “All I can say to that is in life there’s timing that’s involved.”
And a sensible deadline for taking action is fast approaching.
Baker is owed his $973,442 salary — to be paid in 17 weekly installments of $57,261 — beginning next week in conjunction with the start of the regular season. He does not count against the 53-man roster limit while on the exempt list but can be released at any time.
The Giants will try to recoup some of Baker’s guaranteed salary and bonus money on a four-year, $10.5 million contract after he is released because of personal conduct clauses, but that is a complicated process, league sources say.
Baker, who also is the target of a civil lawsuit, is alleged to have taken cash and watches from four men at gunpoint while at a party. His attorneys deny all accusations and say Baker is the victim of an extortion claim.
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It was the first arrest for Baker, according to public records, but there were questions about his work ethic and commitment to football before the 2019 NFL Draft. Other teams determined he could not be trusted.
The Giants looked into those concerns and came away comfortable enough to make a 3-for-1 trade of draft picks to move up to take Baker as the first cornerback off the board — even though a team source previously told The Post “there was a battle in our building over whether we were going to take DeAndre or not.”
Since the arrest, the Giants have reviewed the notes to see if they missed anything.
“Did we thoroughly investigate DeAndre’s background? Absolutely,” Gettleman said. “There’s nothing there we didn’t know. But of course you always go back. It’s no different than a coach when something doesn’t go right. We did that. You always want to get better. You always debrief.”
The Giants already cut bait with former Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas, who was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors from a hit-and-run accident in June. But giving up on first-rounders is more difficult because of the wasted cost-effective resources in a salary-cap-driven league.
“There was nothing in Aldrick’s background, nothing in DeAndre’s background that would suggest these things would happen,” Gettleman said. “It’s disappointing on a variety of levels and it hurts us because they are two talented players. What it teaches us all is nothing is 100 percent except death and taxes.”
When told Rosas, who signed with the Giants during Jerry Reese’s tenure as general manager, previously had a DUI arrest while in college in 2016, Gettleman said, “If there was something in Aldrick’s background from college, frankly, I didn’t know because I wasn’t here.”