• Budda Baker requests trade: What you need to know

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    Budda Baker has requested a trade from the Arizona Cardinals. What’s next?

    New Cardinals defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said the following about his defensive captain Budda Baker at his introductory press conference.

    Budda sets the standard on how you play this game. It is violent. It is high-motor 24-7.

    Right now, that standard-setting player is requesting a trade. Arizona and its star safety are reportedly far apart on contract talks. Baker wants to reset the market, and the Cardinals seem hesitant to hand out a big back as it begins a lengthy rebuild.

    After Baker collected his fourth-consecutive Pro Bowl nomination as one of the team’s few bright spots in 2022, the Cardinals cannot afford to lose him.

    Why is Baker Asking for a New Contract?

    Baker has his reasons for demanding a new contract. He’s undoubtedly been one of the best safeties in the league, but he signed his original extension in 2020.

    Since then, he’s become seventh in AAV% — which factors in his contract relative to cap space percentage — and ninth in total salary among safeties. That’s behind players like Jessie Bates and Jamal Adams, who haven’t provided the same impact.

    Baker is deserving of a raise, but there’s also the question of whether he will actually receive it.

    Who Holds the Leverage Here?

    Unfortunately for Baker, the safety doesn’t have much to hold out on here. It’s a bad look for the organization not to have its star player, who has been long touted for his impressive leadership and work ethic. But Baker is under contract through 2025 and would lose a lot of money if he sat out.

    With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine the Cardinals trading Baker. But for a team looking to acquire future assets as its rebuild begins, there is some incentive to trade a 27-year-old safety.

    What Are the Cardinals Looking For?

    An NFC executive reportedly told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that Baker would be worth a second or third-round pick in a trade. That’s not bad value for a Pro Bowl-caliber safety who is still in his prime. The bigger sticking point will be the subsequent contract that likely results in Baker being the top-paid safety in the NFL.

    If the Cardinals trade Baker for around that price, teams will pick up the phone.

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    Where Can He End Up?

    Denver, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati seem like strong landing spots for teams trying to compete with holes in the secondary. The Broncos may hesitate to pay for another safety opposite of Justin Simmons, but there’s no denying that the defense must carry the 2023 Broncos.

    Jacksonville needs a better playmaker on defense, and giving a formidable option in the secondary with Rayshawn Jenkins would allow for so many disguised blitzes that quarterbacks’ heads would be spinning.

    Cincinnati is a perfect contender in the opposite conference of the Cardinals, similar to Denver and Jacksonville, but the Bengals let Bates walk as well as Vonn Bell. It’s too unproven in the secondary for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

    With extensions looming for Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase, there may not be enough money to go around for the notoriously stingy Bengals. But Baker would be a game-changer for the Bengals that could get them back to the Super Bowl.

    Who Steps Up if Baker Leaves?

    Jalen Thompson would shoot up into DB1 territory, a place he has often flirted with. But otherwise, not many can provide the versatility in coverage and near the line of scrimmage that Baker can.

    Perhaps Isaiah Simmons sees more snaps at free safety. Either way. The Cardinals would need to add to the position one way or another.

    A shortened version of this article first came out in The IDPGuys Newsletter. It comes out every Wednesday morning straight to your inbox. Click here to sign up!

    Thank you for checking out this article! You can read Michael Sicoli’s content on their IDP Guys’ author pages. Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @Michael__Sicoli, and @IDPGuys (we have offense too). Please check out our website at idpguys.org!

    Michael Sicoli

    A dynasty enthusiast and fantasy football addict, there's not much more I'd prefer to write about. I'm a New Yorker at a Connecticut university -- Quinnipiac -- who's a firm believer that the NFL doesn't have an offseason.
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