If anyone should be pleased on how his offseason is going do not look any further than Budda Baker, safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Budda is part of a defense who can be sneaky good this upcoming season with players like Patrick Peterson, Chandler Jones, Devon Kennard, Zach Allen, and combine warrior Isaiah Simmons. He also finally made his debut on the NFL Top 100 Players as voted by his peers around the league coming in at number 97. Also, just this morning he signed a contract that would make him the highest paid safety in the NFL. He put ink to paper signing a four year $59 million dollar contract, but he had to prove a lot of people wrong to earn that, even the team that drafted him.
The Adventure Begins
Coming out of the University of Washington Budda Baker was a name everyone knew and how could you not? He finished his career with 200 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 18 pass deflections, but even with all that he was still the fourth best safety coming out of the draft according to scouts. The other three were Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, and Jabrill Peppers, my how fast times change. The other challenge was something that was out of his control. His measurables at the time of the combine were not the eye popping attention grabbers of his fellow draft eligible safety peers. He measured in 5ft 9inches and only weighed 195 pounds. However, he tested well in every aspect of the combine, but scouts still questioned if Budda can handle the physicality of the game due to his height and weight. That’s why he did not hear his name until the second round when Arizona selected him with the 37 pick overall.
The Waiting Game
Usually for a team to draft you in the second round they expect you to start right away, but that was not the case for Budda Baker. He had to be the back up his first two years in the NFL. During his rookie campaign he was back up safety to Tyrann Mathieu. In his second year, he was splitting time with Tre Boston and Antoine Bethea. His third year would prove to all be worth the wait as after two seasons he would be named the full time starter playing in all sixteen games and having a career year. His numbers reached an all-time high with 147 tackles, 1 sack, 6 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. The best trait he has, as it was mentioned when he made his debut on the Top 100 NFL Players, he is always around the ball. In three separate occasions in the 2019 season he had double digit tackles. With his performance it was no surprise the Cardinals did not want to risk losing Baker when his contract was supposed to expire this upcoming season. Now, Baker can call Arizona home for the foreseeable future as things are heating up for the team in the desert.
What Happens Now
Arizona is building a good mix with young and veteran defensive players as they have a young pass rushing crew with players like Zach Allen, Chandler Jones and Isaiah Simmons. Their linebacker crew has experience with names like Devon Kennard, Jordan Hicks, and Haason Reddick. They have a stellar secondary to boot, a secondary that is led by Patrick Peterson, Dre Kirkpatrick, and newly high paid safety in Budda Baker. If the offense can improve overall, and why wouldn’t they with the offseason acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins, they have a shot to make a playoff push with the now 7 team per conference format. It’s hard to say that they will win the division right away, but they will be confident as an organization as a whole knowing they are making the right moves for a bright future ahead under the hot Arizona sun.