Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker is now the highest-paid NFL player at his position. On Tuesday, Baker signed a four-year extension with the Cardinals. The details of the contract were not announced by the team, but according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the contract is worth $59 million.
"It's definitely an exciting thing for me to be labeled [as the highest-paid safety in league history], to say that," Baker said to reporters on Tuesday. "It was a very cool experience and it's a very cool experience right now. Baker also said he's "labeled as this player and now I have to show out and continue to show out each and every week."
The Cardinals drafted Baker in the second round back in 2017, and his extension comes four years after the team signed safety Tyrann Mathieu to a long-term deal worth $62.5 million. He was released from the team in 2017, but it doesn't look like that will happen to Baker because of what he brings to the table. In 2019, Baker recorded 147 total tackles last season. It was the most by a defensive back since Antoine Bethea notched 139 tackles in 2011.
"He's one of those guys with the unique ability to never stop moving his feet through contact," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He's fearless, and he's a great leader. Our entire defense feeds off his energy and the way he approaches the game."
Cardinals general manager John Keim said Baker's contract extension "took so much time" only because of the unknown of next year's salary cap. Now that the deal is done, the Cardinals can focus on other areas of their team from a financial perspective.
"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." Baker has made the Pro Bowl twice in his three NFL seasons. In 2017, Baker proved that he was ready to be a star in the league, being named First-Team All-Pro after recording 74 tackles, one sack, seven passes defended and two forced fumbles.