Did the Arizona Cardinals overpay Budda Baker?

Arizona Cardinals, NFL

The young star receives a lucrative extension, making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history

The Arizona Cardinals defense as a whole was subpar in 2019, but safety Budda Baker was the lone bright spot on the unit. Arizona made sure to keep him a part of the team for the foreseeable future, signing him to a four-year, $59 million extension.

Bakers agent, David Mulugheta confirmed the news to ESPN’s Adama Schefter. The four-year deal includes a $14.75 million yearly average along with $33.1 million guaranteed. Baker was making less than half of his new yearly average while on his rookie deal.

Coming in as a second-round draft pick in 2017, Baker has been a star. He earned first-team All-Pro honors in his first season. He has also added two Pro Bowl selections to his resume. In 2019, he ranked fourth in the NFL in total tackles (147) and solo tackles (104). He also added six passes defended and 9.5 tackles for loss, both ranking in the top five on his team in 2019.

Baker has also been durable, only missing two games in his three-year career. What is interesting about the former Washington Husky is that he has hasn’t logged a single interception in his career. So how did Budda become the highest-paid safety in history with zero interceptions?

Budda Baker’s versatility is what makes him valuable

The Cardinals have played Baker at almost every position, and that is no understatement. Baker has played most of his snaps at the safety spot (648), but he also played 174 snaps at outside linebacker, 155 at slot corner, 39 at inside linebacker, 31 at an edge defender, 12 at left corner, and 10 at right corner according to Cynthia Frelund. His ability to be an impact player no matter where he is at on the field is something very few players can do in the NFL.

As mentioned before, defense was a sore spot for Arizona last year. The gave up the most yards from scrimmage last year, something that needs to change if they expect to be legitimate contenders in the NFC. The Cardinals drafted another versatile defender in Isaiah Simmons from Clemson in the draft this year. Jordan Hicks and Chandler Jones are also returning to the team, with Hicks ranking third in the NFL in tackles in 2019 (149) and Jones being second in sacks with 19 last year. All these pieces with Baker should help ease the defensive woes and make the defensive unit of much more efficient.

Seeing him as a cornerstone player for their franchise, the Arizona Cardinals locked up Budda Baker with a historic deal at his position. He has played like a top safety in the game and he is now getting paid like one. The Cardinals are having an impressive offseason, getting star receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans to play with second-year quarterback Kyler Murray. Now the are during up the defensive side by drafting Simmons and paying their best defensive player in Baker. With the amount of young talent they have, the Cardinals can turn some heads and be a force this upcoming season.

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