The biggest Arizona Cardinals’ headline today is not the new uniform unveiling reportedly scheduled for next Thursday but the news of Budda Baker’s trade request.
Since becoming the No. 36 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Baker has exceeded all expectations not only as football player but as a leader that people would like to become.
And his accolades speaks for itself.
- 2x First-team All-Pro
- 1x Second-team All-Pro
- 5x Pro Bowler
- 3x Team Captain
In his six years in the NFL, Baker has made 650 tackles, 7.5 sacks, seven interceptions, six forced fumbles, and 34 passes defensed.
Two seasons ago, the Cardinals signed Baker to a four-year $59 million extension with $33.1 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL at the time.
Some may be wondering why Budda Baker is not honoring the remainder of the contract he agreed to in 2021.
According to OvertheCap.com, Baker’s base salary is $13.1 million in 2023 and $14.2 million in 2024. However, none of his salary is guaranteed.
He has played for multiple coaches since 2017 which includes three head coaches in Bruce Arians, Steve Wilks, and Kliff Kingsbury. He also played for three defensive coordinators in James Bettcher, Al Holcomb, and Vance Joseph. If we include the current staff, head Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis will be next on his list. Through it all, Budda Baker was a standout player every single year.
As of today, he is the seventh-highest paid safety in the NFL with an annual average of $14.75 million. Keep in mind the Atlanta Falcons signed Jessie Bates III to a four-year $64.02 million deal that makes him the fourth-highest paid safety in the NFL which trails only Derwin James, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Jamal Adams.
Just as general managers can be haste in their decisions to release players in the middle of their contracts like Steve Keim did with Tyrann Mathieu in 2018, why should players do the same in honoring contracts that are not always honored by NFL front offices?
Considering Baker is still in his prime at the age of 27 on a rebuilding team, he has every reason to demand a significant pay raise or make a trade a request considering the team’s rather bleak situation from a talent standpoint.
In the introductory press conference of Cardinals’ general manager Monti Ossenfort, he said “Budda Baker represents everything that we want this organization to be and I am excited to be on a team with him.”
If Ossenfort remains true to his words, Baker is a player that must be kept to turn this team around. It does not need to be explained that Budda Baker is the epitome of what an NFL player should be or aspire to be. His infectious energy, his love for football, his pursuit for success, and his unwavering devotion to this ball club through all the bad in prior years should not go unnoticed.
Any player just as any person should be paid what they are worth if their production aligns with their demands. Budda Baker is arguably the best safety in the NFL with the seventh-highest valued contract at his position.
A rebuilding team should not be deprived of proven talent. Homegrown stars such as Baker is one that any team should want to do everything possible to keep and build around.
Budda Baker is the best player on the Arizona Cardinals’ roster and one of the best players in the entire National Football League.