Arizona Cardinals need to commit to a pair of homegrown players

New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals would be wise to keep Budda Baker and Isaiah Simmons around as they look to assemble a championship roster.

Right under our eyes, the Arizona Cardinals front office is making a whole lot of changes. First-year general manager Monti Ossenfort has been doing his best to repair the mess that Steve Keim left behind. The previous GM also had his moments, however, and there are two particular acquisitions from the Keim era who need to stay where they are.

Budda Baker, the first part of the duo, needs no introduction. The five-time Pro Bowler (four from the safety position) has been the heart and soul of the Arizona defense during the past several seasons. Ossenfort has been waxing poetic about Baker from day one, giving fans every reason to believe that the 27-year-old would remain a part of the team's foundation for years to come.

Unfortunately, Baker may not want to hang around for the rebuilding that's taking place with the Redbirds. It's being reported that the former second-round draft pick is not happy in the desert, and may want to be traded. Baker would likely be happier with the Cards if they gave him a raise, but there have been no indications that Ossenfort is willing to do that.

The Cardinals also have question marks about Isaiah Simmons, the multi-talented linebacker who joined the club three years ago. Ossenfort has until May 1st to decide if the franchise is going to pick up the fifth-year option on Simmons' rookie contract. Based on what the 24-year-old has accomplished during the past two campaigns, Arizona would be crazy not to.

Money could play a factor in what the Arizona Cardinals decide to do with Budda Baker and Isaiah Simmons

Back in 2021, Simmons racked up 105 tackles, an interception, seven passes defensed and four forced fumbles in 17 starts for "Big Red". Last fall, the 6 foot 4, 237 pounder totaled 99 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions (one a pick-six) and seven pass breakups in his 17 appearances (13 starts) for the squad. It's mind-boggling to think that the Cards would give up on an individual who has posted such impressive numbers at such a young age.

Money, not surprisingly, factors into the equations for both defenders. The AAV (average annual value) for Baker's current deal is $14.75 million, a figure that ranks him as the seventh-highest at his position in the NFL. It's being reported that the 5 foot 10,195 pounder wants a contract that's more in line with the $19 million AAV that Derwin James collects in his latest agreement with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Picking up the fifth year on Simmons' first professional deal would mean the Cardinals would be forking over $12.7 million for the Omaha native in 2024. Many feel that the eighth-overall selection of the 2020 draft isn't worth that amount of cash. Maybe so, but it's also possible that Arizona could make the wrong call with Simmons in much the same way that they botched the Haason Reddick evaluation.

The retooling of the Cards roster is taking place, and building blocks are needed for the transition. Baker and Simmons are "core" players who can help to lead the way for the newcomers and the rookies. Weighing all of the options, contract-extensions for both is the best course of action for the Cardinals organization.

Mock Draft!. Arizona Cardinals trade third pick to Atlanta. dark

(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)