Budda Baker

West Notes: Cards, Hawks, Raiders, Lindsay

The Cardinals‘ defensive resurgence will be tested this week. Budda Baker is dealing with a torn thumb UCL, and Kliff Kingsbury expects the high-priced safety to undergo surgery soon, Howard Balzer of SI.com notes. Baker is expected to miss at least Sunday’s game against the Panthers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, but given that this injury sidelined Drew Brees five weeks and will shelve Jalen Reagor longer, a multiweek absence would not be surprising. Baker confirmed surgery is in the cards (Twitter link). The fourth-year safety, however, played all but one of the Cards’ defensive snaps against the Lions — despite having sustained this injury previously.

An interesting name has surfaced as a possible replacement. The Cardinals brought in T.J. Ward for a workout, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Ward interestingly played three seasons with the Broncos, serving as one of the anchors for Denver’s No Fly Zone Super Bowl-winning secondary, but did not make their 53-man roster in Vance Joseph‘s first year as the team’s head coach. The then-Joseph-led Broncos cut the veteran safety in 2017, leading Ward to the Buccaneers. Joseph is now the Cardinals’ DC. Ward, 33, has not played since the 2017 season.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Pete Carroll said during a radio interview Chris Carson has a Grade 1 knee sprain, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter) the Seahawks‘ starting running back is in line to miss one or two games. A questionable tackle from Cowboys defensive lineman Trysten Hill, which included a post-play twist of Carson’s leg, led to the injury. Carson has dealt with injuries during his time as Seattle’s starter — including a broken leg in 2017 and a season-ending hip malady last year — but has only missed three games over the past two seasons. The Seahawks have Rashaad Penny on their PUP list, leaving free agent addition Carlos Hyde as the next man up.
  • Seahawks first-round rookie Jordyn Brooks suffered a knee injury as well, but he did not suffer ACL damage and should return this season. Brooks is recovering from an MCL sprain, per Rapoport (on Twitter). The first-year linebacker will likely miss a game or two.
  • Raiders first-round cornerback Damon Arnette is visiting a thumb specialist Tuesday, and Rapoport notes he could miss up to six weeks (Twitter link). This was an aggravation of a previous injury, with Arnette having broken his thumb prior to the regular season’s outset. Arnette fell awkwardly on the injured thumb during Sunday’s game against the Patriots.
  • Second-year Raiders safety Johnathan Abram played through an AC joint sprain Sunday, but questions about the injury persist. Abram collided with a TV cart during the Raiders’ Week 2 win over the Saints, and the NFL has engaged in discussions with ESPN about where the network’s carts can be during games, per Pelissero and Rapoport. The cart was closer to the field because of the COVID-19 pandemic restricting cheerleaders, photographers and other personnel from the sideline. Abram missed almost all of last season following an injury during the Raiders’ Week 1 game on a Monday night.
  • The Broncos are now down five of their six Pro Bowlers, after Jurrell Casey‘s season-ending biceps tear. But that number of injured standouts could be reduced to four soon. Phillip Lindsay returned to practice last week and may be on track to face the Jets on Thursday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Lindsay has been battling turf toe since suffering the injury during Denver’s opener.
  • The stomach pains that caused Chiefs guard Andrew Wylie to be transported to the hospital prior to Monday night’s Chiefs-Ravens game are believed to have stemmed from appendicitis and not a COVID-related concern, Pelissero tweets.

Injury Notes: Baker, Thomas, Hunter

Cardinals star safety Budda Baker is playing through a torn UCL in his thumb, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. Baker plans to play in Arizona’s game against the Lions this afternoon and then undergo surgery this week. Although the same injury sidelined Saints QB Drew Brees for six weeks last season, Baker obviously does not have to throw the football and believes he will miss only the Cardinals’ Week 4 contest against the Panthers before returning to the field to take on the Jets in Week 5.

Now for more injury-related news regarding a few of the league’s high-profile players:

  • There has been a great deal of talk about Brees’ struggles early this season, but the Saints‘ signal-caller may soon have his top target back. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has looked good in workouts and is eyeing a Week 4 return, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
  • The Vikings need a boost on both sides of the ball, and they are clearly missing DE Danielle Hunter. As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, Hunter, who is dealing with a herniated disc in his neck, is eligible to come off IR next week but is unlikely to be ready to return by then. However, he is regaining strength, and the team remains optimistic that he will be back this season.
  • Titans WR A.J. Brown is dealing with a bone bruise in his knee, and the injury is a significant one, according to Schefter (via Twitter). Brown’s knee has not responded as well to treatment as the team had hoped, and he might end up missing more than just this afternoon’s game against Minnesota.
  • More difficult news for Tennessee. Titans CB Adoree’ Jackson is eligible to come off IR this week, but Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com hears that Jackson may not be sufficiently recovered from his knee injury for that to happen (Twitter link). It’s unclear how much additional time the 2017 first-rounder will miss.
  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel is likely to return to practice this week, as Rapoport notes (via Twitter). Samuel will be eased into action, and while he probably won’t play in Week 4, the Niners’ top wideout is expected back for the team’s Week 5 bout with the Dolphins.

Cardinals, Budda Baker Agree To Record-Breaking Extension 

Budda Baker is now the highest-paid safety in NFL history. On Tuesday, the Cardinals agreed to a four-year, $59MM extension with their young standout defender (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). 

[RELATED: Cardinals To Sign Dre Kirkpatrick]

Baker’s deal includes a whopping $33.1MM guaranteed and comes out to an annual average of $14.75MM. Before the re-up, Baker was set to earn just $1.396MM in base pay in the walk year of his rookie deal. With that, Baker tops the previous watermark set by Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who signed a four-year, $58.4MM extension with the Bears earlier this year.

The 24-year-old has impressed across three pro seasons, though he has never intercepted a pass as a pro. He has, however, notched 323 tackles, 3.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 14 passes defensed in total. Last year, he registered 104 solo stops to lead the league. Baker appeared as a slot corner earlier in his career, but he’s clearly found a home as a safety.

With Baker, edge rusher Chandler Jones, cornerback Patrick Peterson, and versatile rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons, the Cardinals boast one of the league’s most intriguing defenses. They’ll look to put it all together in 2020 and improve on their 5-10-1 mark from last year.

Baker’s deal has surely captured the attention of new Seahawks safety Jamal Adams. Adams has spent years lobbying for a market-setting contract and he’ll surely leapfrog Baker in 2021. For now, Adams has agreed to table the talks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Clark, Tate, Rosen, Alexander

The Seahawks started talking contract with star defensive end and free agent-to-be Frank Clark last month, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks will not let Clark get away. If the two sides cannot work out a long-term deal in the next couple of weeks, Seattle will put the franchise tag — valued at roughly $18MM for defensive ends — on the 25-year-old. That will at least buy them until July to come to terms on a multiyear pact, which could have a total value of up to $90MM. Clark, though, appears perfectly willing to play out the 2019 campaign on the one-year franchise tender, which would make him eligible for free agency again next year.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • It does not appear that the Eagles will re-sign Golden Tate before free agency opens next month, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk opines. Alper does not cite a source, but a recent tweet from Tate himself and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman‘s silence on the matter suggest that Tate will be looking for a new home soon. Tate has indicated he would like to be back in Philly, but given the Eagles’ tight salary cap situation, that could be a tall order, especially if Tate is still seekingJarvis Landry-type deal.
  • Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury continues to dismiss the speculation connecting Kyler Murray to Arizona. Many pundits believe Murray would thrive in Kingsbury’s offense, but Kingsbury insists that the team is committed to last year’s first-round pick, Josh Rosen (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic tweets that team president Michael Bidwill is also adamant that his club will not pursue Murray (at least not with the No. 1 overall pick).
  • Budda Baker has functioned as the Cardinals‘ slot corner, but new DC Vance Joseph said that Baker will be moved back to his natural safety position in 2019 (Twitter link via Mike Jurecki of AZCardinals.com).
  • Despite the torn ACL that ended Kwon Alexander‘s season in October, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com believes Alexander will cash in, though it may not be with the Buccaneers. Laine says that Tampa Bay was not willing to pay $10MM per year for Alexander even before the ACL tear, though she believes that other teams will be happy to hit that figure. Given that Alexander appears to be progressing well in his recovery, Laine thinks his market will be robust (Twitter links).

Draft Pick Signings: 5/25/17

The latest draft picks to sign their first NFL contracts:

  • The Cardinals have signed their second-round selection, former Washington safety Budda Baker, leaving first-round linebacker Haason Reddick as the only member of their seven-pick class without a contract. Baker, whom Arizona drafted after trading up from No. 45 overall to No. 36 in a deal with the Bears, closed out his college career last year with an All-America season, piling up 70 tackles (9.5 for loss), three sacks and two interceptions. He should emerge as the Cardinals’ long-term answer at strong safety, potentially giving the team an enviable tandem with Baker and free safety Tyrann Mathieu.
  • The Buccaneers have inked second-round safety Justin Evans to a deal, tweets FanRag’s Roy Cummings. With Evans under contract, the only one of the Bucs’ six picks who’s unsigned is third-rounder Chris Godwin. Evans, the 50th pick, played the previous two seasons at Texas A&M, breaking out as a playmaker in 2016 with four interceptions. The 6-foot, 199-pound Evans is an “extremely physical hitter,” per NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who notes that he has the makings of a “plus NFL starter.”
  • The Jets now have eight of their nine selections under contract, having signed third-round wide receiver ArDarius Stewart (first-round safety Jamal Adams is the lone straggler). The 5-11, 204-pound Stewart went 79th overall after emerging as a legitimate weapon at Alabama in 2015 and combining for 117 receptions and 12 touchdowns in his final two years with the Crimson Tide. Stewart now joins Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and fourth-rounder Chad Hansen as intriguing Jets wideouts who are 25 or younger.
  • The Titans have signed the 155th overall pick, fifth-round linebacker Jayon Brown. The ex-UCLA Bruin ended his college tenure in 2016 with career highs in tackles (119), tackles for loss (7.5), interceptions (three) and sacks (two), though Zierlein pegs the 6-foot, 231-pounder as an undersized player who “lacks the functional strength to become anything more than a sub-package cover linebacker.”
  • The Vikings have finally gotten to work on signing their 11 picks, having come to terms with fifth-round receiver Rodney Adams (No. 170 overall) and seventh-round defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (No. 220), per Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune. Formerly with both Toledo and South Florida, the speedy Adams is likely to make an impact as a kick returner and/or a fourth or fifth receiver early in his career, according to Zierlein. Odenigbo, meanwhile, was a prolific sack artist at Northwestern, where he took down opposing quarterbacks 23 times over four seasons – including a personal-best 10 in 2016.

Cardinals Acquire 36th Pick From Bears

The Bears will trade back from the 36th overall pick, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The selection will go to Arizona in exchange for the Cardinals’ second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks this year and a fourth in 2018, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times has the exact details: Chicago will get the 45th, 119th and 197th selections this year, while the Cards will receive Nos. 36 and 221.

The Cards have selected Washington safety Budda Baker, who could help replace the departed Tony Jefferson. After Jefferson signed with the Ravens, the Cardinals added Antoine Bethea, who’s currently penciled in alongside star Tyrann Mathieu as a back-end starter.

Extra Points: Redskins, Allen, Steelers

The Redskins are high on Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Redskins currently own the No. 17 pick in the draft, so they’ll likely need to move up to get him. Then again, Allen might not make it out of the top five.

Here’s more news before the draft gets underway:

  • Washington defensive backs Kevin King and Budda Baker are on the Steelers‘ “radar”, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Pittsburgh has used early picks on secondary help over the past few seasons, as Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Senquez Golson have all been added to the defensive backfield since 2015. Golson, however, hasn’t been able to get on the field due to injuries, and the Steelers could use more help in the back end. King would give the club a physical corner to play outside, while Baker can play deep safety and the slot.
  • Some folks in the Dolphins organization are really high on linebacker Haason Reddick, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald hears. His fans in Miami believe that he can be a great weakside linebacker right off of the bat and they like his explosive pass rush skills.
  • An official from one team tells Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) that Gareon Conley will go in the first round.
  • Colts defensive lineman David Parry will avoid jail time after reaching a plea agreement this week, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star writes. Originally, he was facing felony charges stemming from a February arrest in Arizona. It remains to be seen whether he’ll face team or league punishment.

NFC Notes: Redskins, Cousins, Cook, Bears

Despite all the trade rumors that surrounded Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins earlier this offseason, the veteran signal-caller expects to spend the 2017 campaign in Washington. “I haven’t heard anything,” Cousins said today on ESPN’s NFL Live (link via John Keim of ESPN.com). “I’m not expecting anything to happen. And I’m looking forward to getting back to work with my teammates.” The Redskins are reportedly offering Cousins a five-year deal worth $20MM annually, but if a deal isn’t struck, Cousins will play out the season on his second consecutive franchise tag (at a cost of nearly $24MM). Cousins has already signed the tender, fully guaranteeing himself that salary for 2017.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Redskins hosted Florida State running back Dalvin Cook today, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Scouts are reportedly cooling on Cook due to character issues, and he didn’t post impressive numbers at the combine. But the production is there on film, and Cook is still expected to come off the board on Day 1. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson formed a “thunder and lightning” attack for Washington in 2016, while Matt Jones and Mack Brown are also on the roster.
  • Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles visited the Bears today, a source tells Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Bolles, though slightly older than the typical NFL draft prospect (he’ll be 25 when the season begins), is now viewed as a top-20 selection and could even find his way into the top 10. Chicago isn’t in dire need of an offensive tackle, and Bolles almost certainly won’t be in consideration at pick No. 3. Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are set to man tackle for the Bears in 2017.
  • The Redskins are meeting with Washington safety Budda Baker today, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Baker will subsequently meet with the Falcons later in the week. Although he’s small in stature (195 pounds), Baker “screams off the edge as a blitzer,” says Lance Zeirlein of NFL.com, who compares Baker to former NFL defensive MVP Bob Sanders. Baker will likely be a late first-round or early second-round pick.

Draft Rumors: McCaffrey, Cook, Melifonwu

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey visited the Panthers last week, a source tells Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. NFL executives reportedly believe McCaffrey will be a top-10 selection, and Carolina picks at No. 8. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera recently said no spot is “too high” to draft a running back, and veteran Jonathan Stewart‘s recent one-year extension won’t stop Carolina from bringing in another runner. PFR’s first mock draft has McCaffrey falling a bit farther, however, as we sent him to Philadelphia at No. 14.

Here’s more on the NFL draft:

  • The Bengals are hosting Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Cincinnati is fully expected to select a running back in this year’s draft, and will likely do so on Day 1 or 2. Incumbent back Giovani Bernard is coming off a torn ACL, while Jeremy Hill hasn’t been effective recently and is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Cook, for his part, topped 1,600 yards and posted 19 touchdowns in each of the last two years with the Seminoles.
  • Missouri defensive end Charles Harris is heading to New York for a visit with the Jets, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Harris, who put up 16 sacks over the past two seasons with the Tigers, probably won’t be in consideration for Gang Green at sixth overall, but he could be an option for the Jets if they trade back (or if he slips to the second round). So far, only the Titans are also known to have met with Harris.
  • The Panthers have visited with Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Carolina, of course, signed Matt Kalil to a hefty free agent contract to play left tackle, but the club may need help on the right side, as Michael Oher is still in the concussion protocol three months after the conclusion of the season. Robinson also has the capability to play guard, so the Panthers could draft him as insurance on internal options Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell, each of whom will hit free agency in 2018.
  • Washington safety Budda Baker recently met with the Steelers, as the club announced. Pittsburgh has spent a bevy of recent picks on defensive backs, as Senquez Golson, Artie Burns, and Sean Davis have all joined the team over the past two years. While the Steelers already boast a solid free safety in Mike Mitchell, he’s entering his age-30 campaign and will reach unrestricted free agency next spring.
  • The Dolphins have spent a “significant amount of time” with UConn safety Obi Melifonwu, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Melifonwu has drawn a good amount of interest from around the league during the predraft process, and one team — the Titans — may even view him as a cornerback. Miami recently extended Reshad Jones, but the club could use another safety now that Isa Abdul-Quddus has been cut following a back injury. T.J. McDonald is also in tow, but he’s suspended for the first half of the season.

Draft Notes: Chargers, Buccaneers, Jets

The Chargers have been connected to a number of quarterback prospects, including DeShone KizerPatrick Mahomes and Josh Dobbs. Current signal-caller, veteran Philip Rivers, understands why his team would start looking for an heir apparent. However, the 35-year-old was also adamant that he’s not looking to give up his role anytime soon.

“I think it’s to be expected they’re going to get a young guy in the room to try and develop him and groom him,” Rivers said (via ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams). “It doesn’t by any means really affect me. I think it’s healthy for me. … This thing doesn’t last forever. I have to get to playing better and keep this thing going as long as you can.

“As long as I do that, then whoever it is they bring in here, they’re going to sit for a while.”

Rivers finished this past season with 4,386 yards, 33 touchdowns, and a career-high 21 interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some other draft notes…

  • The Buccaneers have shown interest in a pair of safeties, according to ESPN.com’s Jenna LaineObi Melifonwu (Connecticut) and Budda Baker (Washington). The organization is also eyeing wide receivers Chris Godwin (Penn State) and Rodney Adams (South Florida), offensive tackle Julien Davenport (Bucknell), running back Kareem Hunt (Toledo), and tight end Michael Roberts (Toledo).
  • According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan didn’t show a whole lot of speed during his school’s Pro Day, but he looked solid in positional drills. The defender previously met with the Saints, and he had dinner with the Jets on Thursday night.
  • There were a number of offensive line coaches at Utah’s Pro Day, including staff from the Jets, Browns, Jaguars, and Lions. Offensive tackle Sam Tevi was impressive during the workouts, and the big man has drawn particular interest from both the Saints and Patriots.
  • Eastern Washington doesn’t have their Pro Day until early next week, but that didn’t stop some coaches from visiting their top prospects. The Cardinals and Buccaneers reportedly visited campus to work out defensive lineman Samson Ebukam.