Budda Baker Agrees to Extension With Arizona Cardinals

Budda Baker
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Adam Schefter is reporting that the Arizona Cardinals and safety Budda Baker have agreed to a four-year, $59 million extension. A two-time Pro Bowler, Baker is heading into the final year of his rookie deal that will pay him a little more than $2 million in the 2020 season. The $14.75 million per year average thus represents a sizeable raise.

Budda Baker Extension

Drafted 36th overall in the 2017 draft, Baker has had a solid, albeit unspectacular, three seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Baker has been particularly effective against the run. He led all safeties in tackles in the 2019 season. As Schefter notes, though, Baker has never had an interception in his NFL career. PFF ranks Baker as their 27th best safety from the 2019 season, largely due to an underwhelming pass coverage grade.

For the $14.75 million annual average to be worth it, Baker will need to continue improving, especially in pass defense. Therein lies the key for the Cardinals: smart general managers pay players for what they’re going to do, not what they’ve already done. If Baker can establish himself as an elite run and pass defender, then the $14.75 million average will be more than worth it. Of course, the initial Twitter numbers often obfuscate a contract’s real value. The key rests in the finer details surrounding the guaranteed money over the course of the deal.

Arizona is a young, promising team that is primarily built around offense. The Cardinals are led by 2019 first overall pick Kyler Murray, running back Kenyan Drake, and a trio of dangerous receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and the ageless wonder, Larry Fitzgerald. By signing Baker to a lucrative extension, GM Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury are signalling their belief in Baker’s ability to lead the defense for several years. Time will tell if he proves to be worth the money they’re giving him.

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