ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals DBs Peterson, Baker among ESPN’s top 2021 free agents

Mar 28, 2020, 7:04 AM | Updated: Mar 29, 2020, 3:10 am

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

On the whole, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim is receiving gold stars for his work this offseason. Arizona finds itself without pressing needs just about two weeks into free agency, and while the Cardinals GM will stay in the moment, he can’t avoid projecting performance and future cap space beyond 2020.

The 2021 offseason will come with big questions about how the Cardinals keep their defensive backfield together.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Budda Baker are both up for free agency, and they each could command hefty paydays next offseason. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert ranks Peterson as the 10th-best projected free agent and Baker at 16th.

Peterson will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time this market opens, but barring a complete physical collapse in 2020, there will be interest in one of the best defensive players in this generation.

Peterson will be 31 when the 2021 season begins. Looking toward 2020, he will have to show the last handful of games in 2019 were a sign that his struggles coming off a six-game PED suspension were reflective of how he can play in tip-top form.

The cornerback has expressed the desire to retire a Cardinal since his trade demand back in 2018. Keim this offseason said the same, but Peterson’s future in Arizona will remain a main storyline over the next year until he is extended or re-signed.

Peterson is making a base salary of $12.5 million this coming season and would command six-figures annually considering the relatively high market price of starting cornerbacks, let alone elite ones.

Baker, who will be 26 in 2021, is in a different boat coming off his rookie deal.

Last year, he was a prolific tackler, finishing fourth in the NFL with 147. He added six passes defensed and a forced fumble but is looking for his first career interception. It’s only expected that he will improve playing under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph for the second year in a row at his natural position.

Making $1.4 million this year, a raise for Baker is going to happen. What will he command at a position that hasn’t been valued as greatly in recent years?

Arizona could work out extensions with its two defensive stars to avoid free agency altogether.

If that happens or if the DBs re-sign, the Cardinals defensive backs will surely be eating into more of the total salary cap space starting in 2021. If not, the secondary will just look a whole lot different.

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