Budda Baker is one of if not the best players on the Arizona Cardinals roster.
He is compensated for it and at a fair rate still, being the ninth highest paid safety in the NFL but wants a new deal that moves him into the top three.
It is an understandable want for a player who has played up to his contract and made himself into one of the better players in the NFL at his position.
However, as much as I love Budda Baker, he is the player I have one of my kids model their game after, someone we watch film of every week to see how he moves and plays, all of the above is one of the reasons the Arizona Cardinals are bad.
The Cardinals have the third highest cap hit in safeties in the NFL, and the one position we talk about each offseason that is set is safety.
That is a good thing until you realize how little the safety play changes things in the NFL.
If you have a great one, it is a good thing, but having a great safety doesn’t change the landscape of the defense like a great pass rusher or even a dominant interior lineman.
And for that reason, if Budda Baker wants to be re-upped, something he deserves, the Cardinals should pass.
Not because he is not worth it, but because continuing to invest into the safety position at the highest rate in the NFL is an effort in futility.
You can’t build from the back of your defense to the front like Steve Keim tried to do for years.
In fact, finding players who could replace Baker (maybe not in scheme but give you something similar) is much easier than finding a high level pass rusher or even a great cornerback.
Look at the Philadelphia Eagles, under Jonathan Gannon the starters were Marcus Epps (someone the Arizona Cardinals tried to sign) who was a sixth round pick in 2019 and C.J. Gardner-Johnson who was a fourth round pick in 2019 by the New Orleans Saints and was acquired via trade for a fifth and seven round pick.
Oh, and neither are back in Philadelphia this year after a Super Bowl run.
This isn’t a way to build teams, and I love Budda Baker, but the Cardinals roster needs an overhaul. If Baker insists on a new contract while that overhaul is happening, get something for him and take the money and invest in more important positions.