Baker was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2017, with his rookie contract set to expire after this season. The deal will average $14.75 million per year, but no other financial details were made public. The Cardinals announced the four-year extension on August 25.
“It’s definitely an exciting thing for me to be labeled [as the highest-paid safety in league history], to say that,” Baker said. “It was a very cool experience and it’s a very cool experience right now. But, for me, I’m just trying to earn what I will make now. I’m labeled as this player and now I have to show out and continue to show out each and every week. And that’s my goals and my plans to do that.”
Baker is the first second-round pick to receive an extension or second deal under general manager Steve Keim, who’s held the position since 2013.
Keim said Baker’s deal took so long to figure out because of the uncertainty surrounding next season’s salary cap. Getting this deal done gives the Cardinals some “cost certainty” and allows them to get a better feel for their financials in terms of where cash is committed, Keim said. Some reports have speculated the 2021 cap floor to be $175 million so the timing was right for Baker’s deal, according to Keim.
“That’s going to be something we’re going to have to work through here in the future, knowing that we have to operate at a certain number,” Keim said. “But, Budda was at the top of our list and we knew that we had to get him extended, and we knew that we wanted him to be a core player here for a long time.”
The 24-year-old Baker is coming off his second Pro Bowl since entering the league in 2017 from the University of Washington, and his first as a safety.
He recorded 147 tackles in 2019 and led the NFL with 104 solo tackles, the only player to reach 100 last season. Baker has not recorded an interception in his three-year career and has played the most coverage snaps (1,261) of any player during that span without a pick.
Additionally, Baker has recorded 33 quarterback pressures since entering the NFL, the most by any defensive back during that three-year span.
Arizona allowed only two completions of 30 yards or more last season, and Baker was a big reason why. He also has played a big role in Arizona’s run defense. Baker’s 33 run stuffs are tied with Jamal Adams for second among defensive backs since 2017. NFL Next Gen Stats defines run stuffs as tackles on run plays for either no gain or a loss.