All eyes will be on Budda Baker this season as the All-Pro safety is receiving a lot of praise during the break.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the offensive-minded guru, was one of the first people who was impressed with the safety the most. During training camp that began earlier this month, Kingsbury watched the defense closely, noting that Budda Baker “is a lion on the field.”
Baker has also received praise from his teammates as well. Linebacker Chandler Jones, who was second in the league in sacks with 19, said the veteran safety makes everyone else on the field look slow.
“You can’t coach that,” Jones said in December after hearing about Baker making the Pro Bowl. “You can’t coach effort. Some of the things he does are amazing.”
Tight end Maxx Williams has noticed Baker by seeing him a lot in practice and when he is on the sideline. He mentioned how the two-time Pro Bowl safety is always flying around the field and how he is not afraid to go after anyone, despite his size.
“I think Budda makes up for being a little shorter by just how athletic and how good of a football player he is,” Williams said during the offseason. “It shows, and he might be the most humble guy on the field and in the locker room…he’s one of the best safeties in the league.”
Williams is not wrong either. Baker led all safeties in tackles during the 2019-20 season with 147 combined, and was fourth in the league behind teammate Jordan Hicks. Other players in the league have taken notice to Baker’s game as well, as he was ranked 97 in the NFL’s Top 100 list.
Despite Vance Joseph leading the Cardinals to the worst-ranked defense in the league last season, it was Baker’s best season in his career. With Joseph returning, Baker could see his numbers go up even further.
This will also be a contract year for Baker, as he is entering his final year under his rookie contract. There is no doubt he will want to play at a higher level than he did last season so he can earn his money as well.