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Budda Baker makes it clear: ‘I want to be a Cardinal’

Beginning the final season of his contract, safety Budda Baker made one thing clear: ‘I want to be a Cardinal’

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker had 400,000 reasons to be a committed participant in this year’s voluntary offseason program, which ends Thursday prior to the mandatory three-day minicamp next week.

After the hiring of head coach Jonathan Gannon 16 months ago, the 2023 offseason was marked by Baker’s absence amid reports he was seeking a trade.

Instead, the Cardinals slightly reworked the remaining two years of his contract, which included non-guaranteed salaries of $13.1 million and $14.2 million. Those base numbers remained the same, but the 2023 salary became guaranteed and he received a $300,000 signing bonus.

In addition, a $400,000 bonus was added for attending the offseason program this year along with a $500,000 bonus each year for being an All-Pro or elected to the Pro Bowl along with per-game active roster bonuses and playing-time bonuses.

So, it was only natural that when Baker was available to the media Monday, he was asked about his approach as, for now, he enters the final season of his contract.

“My mindset is the same each and every year,” Baker emphasized. “A lot of people think about the money. Some players might think, ‘Contract year, I gotta do extra.’ I treat every single year like a contract year. For me, I love this game. I play it at a high level each and every week because of the work I put in each and every week. I’m an honest believer in controlling what I can control and do my job. At the end of the day, everything else will take care of itself.

“That’s my main goal this year like it is every year. Continue to do my job at a high level, continue to play elite football and when the ball comes my way, get it out the sky. And when it doesn’t, run to the ball. That’s what I am, A to Z, run to the ball. Everything else can take care of itself. I’ll let my agent handle all that other stuff. But when it comes to football, when I step on that football field, you guys will all know, you’ll see exactly what you see each and every year.”

Asked if he hopes to be with the Cardinals beyond this season, Baker matter-of-factly said, “Of course. Me being here seven years, this will be Year 8, of course you would love to be on a football team that you got drafted to. I know it’s the not the same GM or it’s not the same head coach, but I understand if I continue to do my job at a high level — this is our fourth coaching staff and I’m still on the team — it shows what type of character I have and what type of work ethic I put onto the field no matter what; no matter who’s there, who’s coaching, I’m going to do my job and I’m gonna be that person that other guys can look on as well and ask questions to.

“Of course, I want to be a Cardinal, but at the end of the day, I understand that it’s a business. Have to keep the main thing the main thing. We have this football team right now. Every year it changes. This year, I’m just going to continue to work hard, continue to get to know my players, get to know my rooks, get to know everybody and just play football at a high level and most importantly, the name of the game is to win. We haven’t really done that much and that’s what I really want to do. I really want to win, I really want these fans to be happy and excited and to come to the games and have those packed-out houses.”

Most important, Baker believes in what is happening around him and that more winning is attainable.

“It’s very different,” he said. “I feel like definitely something special that I feel is going on and am definitely excited. I don’t want to get into the wins and how many wins and all that stuff. But I just know that I’m very excited for this team, very excited for these players and definitely feel like there’s going to be good things coming about.”

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Story originally appeared on Cards Wire