Arizona Cardinals safety getting handed a Pro Bowl spot is a travesty

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker has no right to play in the 2024 Pro Bowl Games, and he earned his spot because he’s a popular name around the league.

Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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In 2023, Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker started a career-low 11 games and did nothing spectacular on the field. Through his 11 starts, Baker has a clean stat sheet next to his 77 tackles and five stops behind the line, meaning he has done absolutely nothing spectacular this season. 

Go to his statistics when facing receivers in the passing game, and Baker allowed his highest passer rating since 2020 at 110.4. He also allowed career-worsts with 15.5 yards per completion, 10.1 yards per target, and an average depth of target when targeted of 12.2 yards. 

Overall, Baker didn’t earn a Pro Bowl spot; he was handed one based on his name and popularity. Meanwhile, safety Jalen Thompson  is by far one of the biggest snubs, and if Baker had any class, he would politely decline the Pro Bowl invite and vouch for his teammate.

Jalen Thompson should represent the Arizona Cardinals in the Pro Bowl

There is no way Jalen Thompson can be happy with Baker earning a Pro Bowl berth, regardless of what he may say to the media if asked about it. Through 14 contests, Thompson’s numbers outshine Baker’s in nearly every statistical category. 

He has 76 total tackles, five behind the line, three quarterback hits, a sack, a forced fumble, eight passes defensed, four interceptions, and 49 return yards. Looking at Thompson’s numbers, there is no question that he was a better safety than a very pedestrian Budda Baker in 2023. 

Thompson’s overall numbers in the passing defense weren’t outstanding, but he allowed 13.6 yards per completion and 9.2 yards per target, with an average depth per target of 10.0 yards. He also, thanks to his four interceptions, gave up a meager 82.0 passer rating, roughly 30.5 points better than Baker’s. 

Overall, it’s a travesty that the wrong Arizona Cardinals safety got the Pro Bowl nod, and it’s because he’s Budda Baker, plain and simple. Few safeties in the NFL suffered larger drop-offs than Baker, and few rose their stocks more than the still-obscure Jalen Thompson.

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(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)