Budda Baker

S Budda Baker Hopes To Remain With Cardinals Beyond 2024

The Cardinals’ 2023 offseason included a Budda Baker trade request which lasted for months. The Pro Bowl safety ultimately worked out short-term resolution to his contract status, but he remains a pending free agent.

Baker saw his 2023 earnings bumped up via incentives as a result of the deal reached last summer. He is now due $14.6MM this season while carrying a cap hit of just over $19MM. If the 28-year-old has his way, he will remain in the desert for the foreseeable future.

“Me being here seven years, this’ll be Year 8, of course you would love to be on a football team that you got drafted to,” Baker said (via Tyler Drake of Arizona Sports). “I know it’s the not the same GM or it’s not the same head coach, but I understand if I continue to do my job at a high level – this is our fourth coaching staff and I’m still on the team – it shows what type of character I have and what kind of work ethic I put onto the field no matter what.”

Baker originally inked a four-year, $59MM pact in 2020. Even with his revised agreement slightly lowering his AAV to $14.1MM, that figure ranks seventh in the league amongst safeties. The position has taken a financial hit this offseason, with a number of accomplished producers being released in the lead-in to free agency. The former second-rounder missed five games in 2023 due to a hamstring injury, but he still managed to receive a fifth consecutive Pro Bowl nod, the sixth of his career.

That could help his leverage in contract talks, whether they take place this summer or closer to free agency. Baker is positioned to remain a starter on the backend along with Jalen Thompson in 2024, and their collective play will go a long way in determining Arizona’s defensive success. The team did add Dadrion Taylor-Demerson in the fourth round of the draft as a developmental option at safety and/or the slot, and his play as a rookie will be worth watching.

As Baker noted, the Cardinals have a different regime in place (general manager Monti Ossenfort, head coach Jonathan Gannon) in place than when he first signed his extension. Those two are tasked with overseeing the team’s rebuild, and a step forward from last season’s 4-13 record will be a target in 2024. A healthy and productive campaign from Baker would help in that regard as he prepares for what could be his final Arizona season.

“A lot of people think about the money. Some players might think, ‘Contract year, I gotta do extra.’ I treat every single year like a contract year,” the Washington alum added. “For me, I’m an honest believer in controlling what I can control and do my job. At the end of the day, everything else will take care of itself.”

Notable 2024 Pro Bowl Incentives

The NFL released the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters last night. While the annual All-Star event has lost some of its luster (and is eyeing a significant revamping in 2024), a Pro Bowl selection is still a significant accomplishment for many players…especially from a financial standpoint.

There were a number of Pro Bowlers whose selections were tied to contract incentives. We’ve collected some of the notable Pro Bowl incentives below:

Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick didn’t have a traditional Pro Bowl incentive, but his selection will still result in more money. Per Corry, Reddick’s 2024 base salary will increase by $500K (from $13.75MM to $14.25MM) thanks to the Pro Bowl selection.

A handful of former first-round picks also boosted the value of their fifth-year options by earning their first Pro Bowl nod (via Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus): Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton, Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Ravens offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum, Lions offensive lineman Penei Sewell, and Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner and Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain boosted the value of their fifth-round option to the maximum amount with a second Pro Bowl selection.

Beyond incentives, players also get some cash for just participating in the Pro Bowl event. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, players on the winning team will earn $88K, while players on the losing team will get $44K. This even applies to Pro Bowl players who can’t participate since they’re playing in the Super Bowl.

Cardinals Activate S Budda Baker

Kyler Murray‘s 2023 debut will have to wait at least one more week, but the Cardinals will have another top player back in the fold tomorrow. Safety Budda Baker has been activated from injured reserve and is expected to play in Week 7, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The team has since confirmed the move.

Baker, like Murray, was designated for return earlier this week. That move opened up both players’ 21-day practice window during which activation is required to avoid season-ending IR. Murray’s ramp-up period will give backup quarterback Josh Dobbs at least one more game at the helm, but Arizona’s defense will welcome Baker’s return to game action.

The latter suffered a hamstring injury during practice in advance of Week 2, which led to his IR stint. That marked the longest injury absence of his career, and left Arizona without the two-time All-Pro on the backend. Baker will give a notable boost to an Arizona defense which ranks 22nd in the league in passing yards allowed per gam (243) and which has seen only two defensive backs record an interception so far.

The 27-year-old had an eventful offseason, with his desire for a market-leading contract leading to a trade request which eventually went public. In the end, team and player worked out a compromise which guaranteed his 2023 compensation (including a $13.1MM base salary), but he remains signed through 2024 at a non-guaranteed figure of $14.6MM. With the Cardinals sitting at 1-5, many expect the rebuilding team to adopt a sellers stance ahead of the upcoming deadline.

The play of Baker – who has earned Pro Bowl acclaim in each of the past four seasons and five overall – will no doubt go a long way in determining his potential trade market. He has eclipsed 100 tackles four times in his career along with multiple interceptions every year from 2020-22. It will be worth watching how much interest he generates upon return, as the Cardinals look to continue their trend of better-than-expected performances this season.

Bringing Baker back will use up one of Arizona’s seven remaining IR activations. Murray’s return (from the PUP list) will not count toward that total, but it will likewise be a notable development for the Cardinals as they look to get healthier in the coming weeks.

Cardinals Designate Kyler Murray, Budda Baker For Return

OCTOBER 20: The Cardinals ruled out Murray for Week 7, a move which comes as little surprise as they continue to proceed with caution with their franchise passer. That means his earliest return could come the following Sunday in a home contest against the Ravens, by which point some or all of his second week of pre-activation practicing will have taken place. Baker, meanwhile, could be in the lineup against the Seahawks in Week 7 since he is listed as questionable.

As ESPN’s Josh Weinfus notes, Arizona now sees Murray as being physically able to play. Signficant rust needs to be shaken off, however, while the former No. 1 pick also needs to acclimate to the team’s new offense led by Drew Petzing. He will have ample time in that regard, and Dobbs could be in line for further starts beyond Week 7. Much of the team’s plans with Murry will depend on the progress he makes in the coming days while he continues his ramp-up period.

OCTOBER 18: Earlier this week, Jonathan Gannon hinted at Kyler Murray returning to the practice field. The Cardinals have operated cautiously with their Pro Bowl quarterback, but they will see him practice again beginning Wednesday.

The Cardinals designated Murray for return from the reserve/PUP list. The team also designated Budda Baker for return; Baker has been on IR since the Monday after Week 2. Both players will have three weeks to be activated, though only Baker’s return designation would count against the eight-activation limit associated with IR. Either player failing to be activated, however, would result a season-ending designation. The Cardinals have used one of their eight allotted IR activations so far this season.

Murray suffered a torn ACL on December 12, 2022 and is well within range of a normal return timetable. Baker sustained a hamstring injury that kept him out for Week 2. While the Cardinals have predictably stumbled out of the starting blocks, sitting 1-5, the undermanned team has shown steady fight in its early-season outings. Murray would certainly stand to improve the Cardinals’ chances of picking up victories, and while rumblings of a potential 2024 separation amid a rebuild have surfaced, Gannon has said consistently Murray is part of the team’s future.

Arizona has used late-summer trade acquisition Josh Dobbs as its starter, scrapping the initial Colt McCoy plan upon making the trade with Cleveland. Dobbs has offered respectable work in his first true go-round as a starter, though he has completed less than 50% of his passes over the past two weeks. With the Cardinals slow-playing Murray’s return, it should probably be expected the journeyman backup/rocket scientist will see a bit more time. Gannon said Murray will need time to ramp up before playing again, pointing to more Dobbs starts during the regular QB1’s PUP-return window.

The Cardinals gave Murray a five-year, $230.5MM extension in July 2022 but saw the dual-threat standout struggle in what became Kliff Kingsbury‘s final season. Clashes between Murray and the coach that brought him to the desert ensued, with a 4-13 season leading to the ousters of Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim. Gannon said Murray was a key reason he took the Cardinals’ job. While the Cardinals hold two first-round picks in 2024, the Texans (3-3) are faring better than expected. Arizona’s shot at the No. 1 pick would more likely come from its own choice. Murray would stand to impede beneath-the-surface organizational aspirations at the top pick, but it certainly looks like the former No. 1 overall draftee will suit up soon.

Murray, 26, ripped off original-ballot Pro Bowl seasons in 2020 and ’21, leading the Cardinals to the playoffs in the latter slate. Murray completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes in 2021, averaging 7.9 yards per attempt. Last season produced a 6.1 Y/A figure, injecting some uncertainty into Murray’s trajectory. Close to completing his rehab journey, Murray is in line to offer an update on his mid-20s form (while debuting in a better Cardinals uniform). Early this offseason, Michael Bidwill projected an early-season return. But reports had pegged a midseason re-emergence as the more likely scenario. Wednesday’s designation puts Murray on track to hit that target.

Bidwill said both Murray and Baker helped the Cardinals choose Gannon, a hire that concluded a meandering search. Baker requested a trade in February; the ask became known in April. Seeking a contract closer to the top of the safety pyramid, Baker begrudgingly returned to the team during minicamp. The sides reached a resolution, but Baker’s 2024 salary is nonguaranteed.

With Baker likely to be healthy before the Oct. 31 trade deadline, he is bound to come up in trade rumors. The Cardinals will be expected to deal some assets soon, as they are rebuilding under first-year GM Monti Ossenfort. The Cards have resisted to take steps on this front, though it will be interesting to see if a notable offer surfaces soon. The perennial Pro Bowler is the Cardinals’ longest-tenured defensive starter.

Cardinals Place S Budda Baker On IR, Sign S Qwuantrezz Knight Off 49ers’ Practice Squad

Budda Baker did not suit up against the Giants on Sunday, missing the wild Week 2 NFC matchup after suffering a hamstring injury during practice Friday. The Cardinals will be without their defensive leader for a while as a result.

The team placed Baker on injured reserve Monday. Although Baker missed Sunday’s game, the Cardinals putting him on IR a day later means he must miss the next four Arizona games. Baker will be eligible to return in Week 7. This will be the longest absence of Baker’s career. He came into the season having missed five games in six years.

This transaction comes several weeks after the Cardinals and Baker reached an agreement to bring him back into the fold. Baker had requested a trade in February, and the ask became public in April. A push to secure a more lucrative contract drove the Baker trade request, and while the team offered a small incentive package and guaranteed his 2023 salary weeks before it would have become locked in, the perennial Pro Bowl safety remains attached to the $14.75MM-per-year deal he signed in 2020.

The Cardinals refused to trade Baker, though it will be interesting to see if the team changes its tune once the seventh-year veteran moves toward recovering. Baker, 27, can return on Oct. 22 — nine days before this year’s trade deadline. He is attached to a $13MM base salary. Considering the Cardinals’ approach change this year, they appear likely to be sellers at the deadline. It would certainly not shock to see Baker’s name come up in trade rumors before the Halloween deadline. Baker is signed through 2024.

Baker has three All-Pro nods on his resume, two of those coming as a safety, and has been invited to five Pro Bowls. He faced a potential IR stint last season, suffering a high ankle sprain. But the resilient defender managed to avoid missing any time. Baker did, however, miss the final two games of last season with a fractured shoulder.

This will deal another blow to a Cardinals defense that lost most of its top 2022 personnel this offseason. J.J. Watt retired, and Zach Allen and Byron Murphy left in free agency. Arizona’s new regime dropped Markus Golden as well. The team bailed on three-year starter Isaiah Simmons late this summer, dealing him to the Giants.

To replace Baker on their 53-man roster, the Cardinals signed Qwuantrezz Knight off the 49ers’ practice squad. A San Francisco UDFA last year, Knight spent the season on the team’s practice squad and signed a reserve/futures deal in January. Knight has yet to play in a regular-season game.

Cardinals, S Budda Baker Reach Resolution

3:39pm: More specifics on this agreement have surfaced, thanks to GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer. The Cardinals are guaranteeing Baker’s $13.1MM base salary for this year, which had previously been nonguaranteed. Seeing as salaries for vested veterans become guaranteed days before Week 1, this is a modest concession regarding a player of Baker’s caliber.

Additionally, the team included up to $200K in per-game roster bonuses this year and sprinkled in a $400K workout bonus in 2024, Balzer tweets. The incentive package reaches $750K in each of the next two seasons, per Balzer, with $500K coming Baker’s way if he earns All-Pro or Pro Bowl recognition. Baker’s 2024 base remains nonguaranteed.

12:07pm: Budda Baker issued a trade request months ago, expressing dissatisfaction with his contract. While the standout Cardinals safety remains tied to the through-2024 deal he inked in 2020, the team has provided some sweeteners.

The Cardinals and Baker agreed on an incentive and bonus package Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The update totals $2.4MM for this year, per Rapoport, who adds the seventh-year safety will receive a $300K signing bonus. An unspecified raise is also in place for 2024.

The benchmarks included here are unclear, but a compromise will keep Baker in the fold in Arizona for the time being. Baker’s 2020 extension (four years, $59MM) had tied him to base salaries of $13.1MM for 2023 and $14.2MM for ’24. An updated report noted Baker was not demanding to be the NFL’s highest-paid safety — as he was when he signed this contract three summers ago — but the 27-year-old defender has sought a deal that would place him near the top of the market.

This disagreement also hinged on Baker’s desire to play for a contender. The Cards’ defensive leader relayed that desire to the team’s previous regime before the start of last season. At that point, Arizona was coming off a playoff berth and had extended Steve Keim, Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray the following offseason. After a 4-13 season, the organization is starting over. Key defensive pieces from last season — J.J. Watt, Zach Allen, Byron Murphy — are gone, and a new coaching staff and front office are in place. Signs point to a rebuild commencing in the desert. But the Cards clearly wanted to keep Baker in the fold.

A compromise here may not be enough to dissuade Baker from seeking a trade again, but for now, he will be a training camp participant with the team that drafted him.

The Cardinals have relied on Baker’s production and leadership for years and have continued to receive Pro Bowl-caliber play from the former second-round pick. Baker has started 83 games for the team. As Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James and others have secured extensions, Baker’s has dropped in the position’s pecking order. The one-time position-record deal has slipped to seventh, with James’ record-setting AAV more than $4MM higher than Baker’s ($14.75MM). But standouts at just about every position see their deals leapfrogged as time passes. With two years remaining on Baker’s pact, the Cardinals agreed to a short-term solution rather than complete a full-on redo.

While the Cardinals have moved on from the above-referenced veteran defenders and released DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, they still employ their longstanding Baker-Jalen Thompson safety pair. James Conner, Zach Ertz, D.J. Humphries, Kelvin Beachum, Will Hernandez and Marquise Brown represent the veteran contingent on offense. Murray and Ertz are on the team’s active/PUP list, and the Pro Bowl quarterback may well miss time to start the season. But the Cards do have a number of veteran holdovers from the Keim-Kingsbury era set to debut with Jonathan Gannon and Monti Ossenfort. Baker sits at the top of that list and is now set for his seventh season with the franchise.

S Budda Baker Expected To Report To Cardinals Training Camp

Despite apparent dissatisfaction with his contract and the state of his team, Budda Baker will be in attendance when Cardinals training camp kicks off next week. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the veteran safety is expected to report to training camp on Tuesday.

[RELATED: Cardinals S Budda Baker Requests Trade]

Just because Baker is planning on attending training camp, it doesn’t mean he’s content with his current situation. Per Schefter, the safety “still is seeking to be paid near the top of the safety market.” Baker would presumably welcome a fresh start elsewhere, but it’s uncertain if he’s still pushing for a trade.

Baker was present for Cardinals minicamp back in June, but he didn’t take part in on-field practices. There was an expectation that he’d ultimately show up to training camp regardless of his contract status, but the safety could roll with a similar hold-in if he doesn’t get a raise. As Howard Balzer notes on Twitter, the safety would be subject to daily fines worth $50K for not reporting to training camp.

The former second-round pick is still playing out a four-year, $59MM extension he signed with the Cardinals back in 2019. There are two years remaining on that pact, and while the contract reset the positional market at the time of the signing, Baker now ranks seventh among safeties with an average annual value of $14.75MM. Derwin James tops the safety list with a $19MM AAV, but Baker’s camp has made it clear that they’re not trying to reset the safety market.

Baker earned his fourth-consecutive Pro Bowl nod last season (fifth overall) after finishing with 111 tackles, a pair of interceptions, and seven pass breakups. The Cardinals lack experienced depth behind their defensive leader, with Juju Hughes, Andre Chachere, Jovante Moffatt, and UDFA Kendell Brooks rounding out the safeties room behind Baker and Jalen Thompson.

Latest On Cardinals S Budda Baker

A busy Cardinals offseason has seen a number of changes take place on the field, the sidelines and in the front office. The status of safety Budda Baker remains undetermined, though.

The two-time All-Pro’s trade request became public in April, though it dated back to the end of the 2022 season, one which saw Arizona go 4-13 and set the stage for what is expected to be a long-term rebuilding process. To little surprise, finances were a central part of Baker’s desire to be moved. He reportedly asked to either become the league’s top-paid safety or moved to a new team.

On the latter point, Baker’s agent David Mulugheta informed NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo that their camp is not seeking to reset the safety market (video link). Derwin James tops the list in terms of AAV and guarantees at the position with an average of $19MM per season on his current Chargers pact. Baker ranks seventh in that regard with a $14.75MM figure. Two years remain on the 27-year-old’s contract, which does not include any outstanding guranteed money.

Aside from financial matters, Garafolo notes that Baker informed the Cardinals ahead of the 2022 campaign that his intention was to play on a contending team. The direction Arizona is now headed in would point to a trade becoming a distinct possibility, considering Baker’s continued production. He earned a fourth consecutive (and fifth overall) Pro Bowl nod last season after collecting 111 tackles, a pair of interceptions and seven pass breakups. His trade market would likely be dictated by the willingness of acquiring teams to commit to a new contract, however.

Baker was present for Cardinals minicamp earlier this month, though he did not take part in on-field practices. Garafolo notes that the former second-rounder is expected to attend training camp in July, but a similar hold-in would not come as a surprise if his contract status remains unresolved. With many of the team’s other offseason decisions taken care of, it will be interesting to monitor how this situation is handled by the Cardinals in the coming weeks.

DB Notes: Baker, Gordon, Lions, Chinn

Budda Baker issued a trade request in February, though it did not become public until mid-April. The Pro Bowl safety remains with the Cardinals and attended the team’s minicamp this week. But the disgruntled defender did not participate in on-field work, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com tweets. This hold-in effort did involve some degree of participation, with Jonathan Gannon indicating Baker has texted with him regarding film and has been in contact with coaches.

It was good to have him in the building today,” Gannon said (via Weinfuss), calling Baker’s situation “the business side of it.” “Smile on his face. He was asking a bunch of questions. I told the coaches, you better be on your toes cause he’s going to ask good questions. The dialogue has been great, and I’m ready to get [No.] 3 back out there.”

With the Cardinals rebuilding and unlikely to have Kyler Murray available to start the season, it would be interesting to see if they listened to offers for Baker. It also is understandable for Gannon to want the decorated safety back in the mix, given the talent the Cardinals lost on defense this offseason (J.J. Watt, Zach Allen, Byron Murphy, Markus Golden). Two years remain on Baker’s $14.75MM-per-year contract, which has paid out its guarantees.

Here is the latest DB news from around the NFL:

  • The Bears now have three second-round cornerbacks on their roster, adding Tyrique Stevenson to a mix that includes Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon. A 2022 Round 2 choice, Gordon is now ticketed for a full-time slot role, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Washington product played both inside and outside last season, logging a 97% snap rate in the 14 games he played. Gordon intercepted three passes and forced a fumble as a rookie, though Pro Football Focus did not view his coverage work especially fondly, ranking the 6-foot defender 108th among qualified corners.
  • Will Harris moved from safety to slot corner with the Lions last year, but the team’s secondary overhaul included the additions of two hybrid players — C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Brian Branch. Both safeties have extensive slot experience, and Gardner-Johnson — despite leading the NFL with six interceptions last season as an Eagles safety — is expected to play plenty in the slot with the Lions. Harris should be expected to be a backup in 2023, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, who notes the fifth-year defender should work as the top reserve on the outside and in the slot. A former third-round pick who re-signed on a one-year deal this offseason, Harris started 10 games last year.
  • Used as a linebacker and a safety over his first three seasons, Jeremy Chinn is set to stay on a versatile track in Carolina. The former Panthers second-rounder has worked as a nickel presence throughout the offseason, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. New Panthers secondary coach Jonathan Cooley said the staff has not fully pinned down Chinn’s role, which will make this run-up to a contract year interesting. The Panthers held off on trading Chinn last year, keeping him as part of a young defensive core.
  • Texans cornerback Steven Nelson hired a new agent recently, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who notes David Mulugheta is now representing the ninth-year defender. Nelson signed a two-year, $9MM deal with the Texans in 2022, but started all 15 games he played. Going into his age-30 season, the former Chiefs, Steelers and Eagles corner is running out of time to make another financial splash.
  • The Cardinals made tiny splashes in the secondary recently, adding corners Dylan Mabin and Bobby Price. Both will be on league-minimum deals, with GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer tweeting Price will earn $1.01MM (the minimum for a fourth-year player) while Mabin is at $870K (the basement for a player with one year of experience). With neither assured of a roster spot, no money here is guaranteed.

Cardinals Remain In Discussions With S Budda Baker

The Cardinals’ goal of re-tooling one of the league’s thinnest rosters met an obstacle last week when Budda Baker requested a trade. More details have recently come out regarding the veteran safety’s thought process on asking to be moved (or given a sizeable raise) and the team’s handling of the situation.

Baker let the team know in February that he was eyeing either a new contract making him the league’s highest-paid safety of a trade sending him out of Arizona. The 27-year-old has spent his entire six-year career with the Cardinals, collecting five Pro Bowl nods and a pair of All-Pro honors. 2022 marked another highly productive campaign for him despite the team’s overall struggles defensively.

Finances are at the heart of Baker’s trade request; two years remain on his deal, an extension signed in 2020 which has salaries of $13.1MM and $14.2MM in 2023 and ’24. Another factor which is driving his desire to be moved concerns the sidelines. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes that the former second-rounder was “wary” of heading into the 2023 season with a new coaching staff in place. The Cardinals replaced Kliff Kingsbury with Jonathon Gannon, who has installed a new staff of coordinators and position coaches.

As Breer adds, Baker had a different head coach in each of his first three seasons in the league. With the Cardinals likely headed for a rebuild under Gannon and new general manager Monti Ossenfort, being moved to a contending team would have obvious appeal. Negotiations for a re-worked deal allowing him to continue in the desert appear to be ongoing, however.

“We have had a lot of conversations with Budda and his representation, a lot of productive conversations,” Ossenfort said Friday, via team reporter Darren Urban. “Those continue to happen. I’d say the conversations that I’ve had with Budda, I want those to remain between Budda and I… I think I’ve been clear how I feel about Budda as a person and as a player, and nothing about that has changed.”

Ossenfort’s praise of Baker makes clear his intention of trying to find a path to nullify the need for a trade to take place. If talks prove fruitless, though, a strong market would likely emerge for the latter given his production. As Arizona weighs its options with the third overall pick in next week’s draft, how they proceed with Baker will remain a storyline to watch.