All throughout the offseason, the new Arizona Cardinals regime had to answer questions about one of it's most prominent players. Budda Baker, a former second-round draft pick of the club back in 2017, had asked for a raise. According to reports, the talented safety also told first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort that he'd like to be traded if the Cards front office couldn't meet his demands.
Following a stalemate between the two parties that lasted for months, the Cardinals and Baker finally came to a compromise agreement in late July. The "Red Sea" could rejoice that the well-liked veteran would be with the team for at least one more campaign. One can't help but have the feeling, however, that Baker could be taking the field for another organization in just a matter of weeks.
It's basically becoming out with the old, in with the new for the Redbirds. Individuals like Baker are from a different era, specifically from when former GM Steve Keim was running the show. It makes complete sense that Ossenfort would prefer to put his own stamp on the squad, and that could mean making decisions that aren't exactly popular with the Arizona fanbase.
Baker suited up for the Cards back on opening-day against the Washington Commanders, but his presence was barely felt. Sure, the 5 foot 10,195 pounder showed up on the stat sheet, contributing five tackles during the contest. Nevertheless, it didn't appear that Baker was performing up to the elite level that Cardinals followers had gotten accustomed to in years past.
Arizona Cardinals could field offers for Budda Baker when the safety comes off of the injured-reserve list
Just days after the 20-16 loss to Washington, Baker suffered a hamstring strain during an Arizona practice. Here we were, just one game into the 2023 season, and the "heart and soul" of the team's defense was already being held out of the Week 2 clash with the New York Giants. The news got even worse this past week when Baker was placed on the Cards' injured-reserve list, a designation that will sideline him for at least four additional matchups.
With that timeline, the earliest that Baker will be able to return is in Week 7, when "Big Red" travels to take on the Seattle Seahawks. It's also a mere nine days before the league's trade deadline, which is set for October 31st. Will Baker be trick-or-treating on Halloween in the uniform of a whole new NFL franchise?
Whether Arizona would be willing to move on with Jalen Thompson, K'Von Wallace and Andre Chachere at the safety position is a question that will need to be answered. How that trio performs over the next month or so could ultimately dictate the direction of defensive coordinator Nick Rallis' secondary. It could also determine whether or not the well-respected Baker will be a part of the new Cardinals regime's plan going forward.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)