33rd Team: Cardinals’ Budda Baker with contract to watch this offseason
Jun 10, 2023, 7:47 AM
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
Now that wideout DeAndre Hopkins has left the Arizona Cardinals, safety Budda Baker has been the talk of the town about whether he will get traded or be handed a contract extension.
Baker requested a trade this offseason after six years in the Valley but said he will be returning to the team at some point.
From a slew of social media games including taking “AZ” out of his Twitter bio, posting a Michael Jordan meme or flat out saying he didn’t feel respected, Baker has not shied the rumors.
The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov said Baker is the most intriguing name in Arizona and painted the picture of what his next contract could look like.
The two-time First Team All-Pro has two years left on his contract and is owed $13.1 million this season and $14.2 million in 2024 from a four-year, $59 million extension he signed in 2020 that made him the highest-paid safety at the time.
The Cardinals enter a new era with GM Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon. The belief is they don’t want to set a precedent of trading frustrated players. In his introductory press conference, Ossenfort told reporters that Baker “represents everything we want on our team.”
Chargers safety Derwin James is currently the highest-paid safety in the league at $19 million per year. Baker is only 27 and has become a leader in Arizona’s locker room. The question is whether this new regime will pour significant money into a non-premium position when the team is not considered competitive.
Baker has been a captain for the Cardinals and with J.J. Watt’s retirement, Arizona will need any veteran leadership for the younger team going forward.
The star safety has five Pro Bowl appearances in 2017 and 2019-23, three All-Pro appearances in 2017 and 2020-21, and has amassed 650 tackles in the six years.
He was also ranked No. 67 in 2022 and No. 19 in 2021 on the NFL’s top 100 players of each season.
He currently mans the secondary with safety Jalen Thompson, making up one of the best safety duos in the NFL. But as Arizona has seen when Baker has gone down with minor injuries, the team’s depth at the position is thin.