Arizona Cardinals named S Budda Baker a captain midseason

Oct 20, 2020, 1:15 PM

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) has the ball stripped away by Arizona Cardinals sa...

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) has the ball stripped away by Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (32) as defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) looks on in the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

When the Arizona Cardinals voted on who would captain them in 2020, Budda Baker didn’t make the cut this preseason.

Eight other Cardinals did, and a couple of close voting totals led to two extra captains than expected.

However that happened for a player who is arguably the team’s most important outside of quarterback Kyler Murray, the Cardinals made it right this week.

After losing one of their captains, Chandler Jones, for the season, the Cardinals’ locker room leaders decided to give the badge to safety Budda Baker on Sunday night.

Then, Baker made that decision look damn good.

He finished with a sack, an interception and a forced fumble in Arizona’s 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday.

“This past week, our captains came together with Chandler being injured and thought it was the appropriate thing to add Budda as a captain,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday.I can’t think of a more deserving player and person.

“It looks like (number) 32, there’s three of them out there. When he’s out there, we’re just a different team — not just defensively but offensively, special teams.”

Baker has done everything possible to make himself look irreplaceable this season. The Cardinals’ worst performance as a team, by a landslide, came in their Week 4 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the game Baker missed while recovering from thumb surgery.

Back in a cast, Arizona over the last two weeks has looked nothing like its sluggish self in Carolina.

Baker is making general manager Steve Keim look proactive when the Cardinals agreed with the safely on a four-year, $59 million extension two months ago. It was a record deal, per year, for an NFL safety.

Now Keim doesn’t need to hear the fact that Baker didn’t have an interception in 50 games as a pro after. He came down with his first on Monday despite his thumb still being in a cast.

“Budda is worth every penny. He’s a captain. He leads this team,” Cardinals defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said Monday night. “He makes a lot of plays. You can feel his energy out there, not only with his plays but just the way he handles himself, how he carries himself.

“He’s out there with one hand and going out there and doing everything we know he can.”

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