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Budda Baker is now a very, very wealthy man. The 24-year-old safety has become one of the best at the position since joining the Arizona Cardinals as the team’s second-round pick in 2017, going on to have a breakout year last season and becoming an anchor for the club’s defense in the process. With the future being as bright as it is for Baker, and the Cardinals not having the luxury of a fifth-year option on his contract, they decided to forego allowing him to play out his contract year in 2020.

Instead, they’ve signed him to a hefty four-year extension worth $59 million, via Adam Schefter of ESPN — confirmed by Baker’s agent, David Mulugheta. At an annual salary of $14.75 million, Baker becomes the highest-paid safety in the NFL, but the Cardinals went one step further in sweetening the tea with $33.1 million in guaranteed money, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, setting a new benchmark in that category as well, besting Eddie Jackson’s deal in Chicago. 

What makes this historic deal even more impressive is the fact Baker doesn’t have a single interception in his NFL career, and the fact that’s mostly irrelevant — given his overall impact. 

Heralded as one of the best players in the 2017 NFL Draft, Baker hasn’t disappointed in the least. With only three years on his professional resume, he’s already a two-time Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro safety, which continues his dominance from his career at the University of Washington, where he earned Consensus All-American and two-time First-Team All-Pac 12 honors. He burst right out of the gate in Arizona and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team, despite starting in only seven games, after taking the lead following an injury that season to Tyvon Branch. Baker went on to deliver 74 combined tackles, seven pass deflections, a sack and a fumble recovery in those seven starts, and hasn’t looked back since.

In 2019, he racked up 147 combined tackles (104 solo) to go along with six pass deflections and the fourth fumble recovery of his career, showing value in whatever the Cardinals ask of him. The two will now be married for the next half decade by virtue of 2020 having been the final year of his current deal, and Baker is officially the man to beat; not only on the field, but also at the bank.

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