Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals struck gold in the 2017 NFL Draft with safety Budda Baker, now they are rewarding him with a record-setting contract that will make him part of NFL history.

Baker, a second-round pick in 2017, has been a versatile weapon in Arizona’s defense since he entered the NFL. After three years of outstanding production, Arizona is signing him to a lucrative contract extension.

Arizona Cardinals sign Budda Baker to record four-year contract

Arizona’s 24-year-old safety has been a playmaker throughout his playing career. After playing his first two seasons at strong safety, the Cardinals transitioned him to free safety in 2019 and he thrived.

Baker demonstrated why he is one of the best in the league despite changing positions and learning new schemes from multiple defensive coordinators. With two Pro Bowl selections already on his resume, Arizona is now adding another accomplishment next to Baker’s name.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Baker is signing a four-year contract extension worth $59 million. The new deal makes him the highest-paid safety in NFL history at $14.75 million per season.

Baker’s contract just sneaks past Chicago Bears star Eddie Jackson, who signed a four-year, $58.4 million extension in January.

It’s a big move for the Cardinals as they look to solidify an offense with star quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The new extension ensures that Baker and Isaiah Simmons, an athletic phenom who Arizona selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, will play together for years to come.

Budda Baker’s unique stats and impact on Cardinals’ defense

Whereas the safety position is usually dependent on creating interceptions, especially in the era where passing is king, Baker strays from his peers in the turnover department.

Jackson, now the second-highest-paid safety in the NFL, has recorded 10 interceptions in 46 career games. Meanwhile, Baker hasn’t recorded a single interception in that same span since entering the league.

He is still an incredibly important piece to Arizona’s defense, a chess piece that is moved around the field constantly. He set a career-high in solo tackles this season (104), creating havoc against the running game and preventing big plays.

It’s really the 24-year-old’s versatility that makes him so impactful for the Cardinals. Across three seasons, via Pro Football Focus, he has played 176 snaps at edge rusher, 460 at linebacker, 708 at free safety and 882 snaps in the slot.

The Cardinals clearly recognize the special value Baker brings to this team and they had no problem rewarding him for his contributions with this record contract.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick