Arizona Cardinals hold all of the leverage in the Budda Baker situation
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals are under no pressure to give in to the selfish demands of disgruntled safety Budda Baker.
Anyone who is optimistic about the current state of the Arizona Cardinals would qualify as a blind loyalist. In reality, the "Red Sea" has had very little to get excited about since the offseason got underway back in January. It's basically been nothing but bad news for a Cardinals squad that appears to be heading towards another awful campaign in 2023.
The latest calamity centering around the Cards features Budda Baker, the club's five-time Pro Bowl safety. According to reports, the 27-year-old has asked to be traded. It's an unfortunate development for an Arizona franchise that was relying on Baker's leadership skills to help keep the team together through these trying times.
Actually, the way that Baker is attempting to force his way out of the organization shows a lack of class. The Cardinals have been more than generous with the 36th-overall pick of the 2017 draft. Apparently, the $59 million contract-extension that Baker agreed to back in 2020 just isn't enough money for him and his family to survive on.
If Baker really wants out, Cards general manager Monti Ossenfort should accomodate that request by trading the veteran to a team that has no chance of contending. Maybe a perennial loser like the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Commanders or Chicago Bears would have interest in acquiring the disgruntled defensive back. By no means should Arizona even consider sending Baker to a Super Bowl-bound franchise.
The Cardinals hold all of the leverage in this potentially ugly predicament with Baker. Ossenfort can basically sit back and ignore the former University of Washington product's trade demands. The new coaching staff would love Baker to be a part of the unit next fall, but they're not going to pay him a penny more to make that a reality.
Rebuilding Arizona Cardinals will proceed with or without Budda Baker in 2023
Winning games obviously isn't a priority of the Cards front office in '23. Whether he admits it or not, Ossenfort is overseeing a rebuild in the desert. Does Arizona really need to pay Baker north of $27 million over the next two campaigns to be a part of it?
If Ossenfort does elect to entertain offers for Baker, the first-year GM should seek a king's ransom in return. A first-round draft choice should be the starting point in any negotiations for the Washington state native. The Cardinals certainly don't need to trade Baker, so anything short of top-notch compensation shouldn't even be considered.
The worst-case scenario is that Baker holds out when training camp gets underway in late July. In all honesty, it would be no skin off of Ossenfort's back if that occurs. Management would actually be recouping a chunk of cash by fining Baker for every day of camp he's not present for.
It's difficult to threaten a team that could care less if it makes the playoffs. In regards to this particular situation, Arizona can just sit back and do nothing. When all is said and done, there's a very good possibility that Baker will be playing for the Cards or no one else when the regular-season kicks off next September.