The Arizona Cardinals find themselves in an awkward situation heading into the 2023 season.
Based on how last year went, we saw Kliff Kingsbury fired and return to coaching at USC. Steve Keim, the longtime general manager, resigned shortly after that. Then, of course, is the injury to quarterback Kyler Murray, who suffered an ACL tear during Week 14 last season.
That set the Cardinals up for an exciting offseason, full of departing organization employees and the arrival of new coaches and players to reinvigorate the team.
Within all of the bustle of earlier this year came the release of longtime receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the trade request from Budda Baker, and the retirement of J.J. Watt, all of which put the team in a curious position to look over their contracts and determine what was best for them moving forward.
The good thing is it appears they made the best decisions possible regarding four players' contracts, in particular, that will likely pay off this upcoming season. Some for obvious reasons, others not so much. But all will be beneficial at season's end.
Current status: 4 years, $59 million contract signed in 2020
The offseason has been quite the roller coaster between the Cardinals and safety Budda Baker, from asking for a trade in April yet being present for all offseason programs with the team to him and his agent letting it be known he'd like a contract extension, it has created a drama-filled spring for all involved.
Although that demand is yet to happen, based on what Baker has brought to Arizona since being drafted in 2017, it should be prioritized to keep him on the team.
His performance has earned him five Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro honors throughout his six-year career. He's quickly become one of the best safeties in the league, and it's not surprising that he may want to be paid for that reason.
Suppose there is any concern about how much Baker wants to be paid, as it has been floated by the media that he has demanded to be the highest-paid player at the position. In that case, his agent repeatedly denied the claim to be accurate.
But even if it was, should you want to pay one of your best players and a pillar of your defense, especially as you're going through a rebuild?
The good thing is, if he's willing to put that out into the public sphere, it's a good chance it's true, which bodes well for the Cardinals as they hope to build an improved roster.
Perhaps Monti Ossenfort should take advantage of the moment and get it done sooner rather than later to retain a productive player and leader of the team and keep up morale during what may be a difficult season ahead.