Cardinals positional needs and review: Safety

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Jess Root
·2 min read
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The Arizona Cardinals are in the offseason and are evaluating what to do to improve and address the roster in 2021.

As we have done previously with the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line positions, as well as inside and outside linebacker and cornerback, we will look at each position group, how it did in 2020, who is on the roster moving forward, and what the Cardinals need at the position moving forward.

Last up on defense are the safeties.


2020 season

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The season was marked initially by the new contract for Budda Baker, who was fantastic this season. He signed a record contract for safeties and then had two of his finer performances on national television against the Dallas Cowboys in a Monday night game and the Seattle Seahawks on a Thursday night game. Baker was a Pro Bowler for the third time and second straight year, and was named a first-team All-Pro. After Baker, the other safety position was held down by several players. Jalen Thompson, who was expected to have a breakout season, got hurt twice. He injured his ankle on the third play of the season, missed six weeks on injured reserve, returned for three games, reinjured the ankle, missed another five games and then played in the season finale. He had 19 tackles on the season. Who became a valuable player was Chris Banjo, who played in 13 games and filled in ably. Deionte Thompson played a little and then rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons lined up at safety a little bit late in the season. There were high hopes for the unit and Baker did his part, but the second position was adequate.

Roster outlook

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Budda Baker: signed through 2024, $7.8 million cap hit in 2021

  • Chris Banjo: Unrestricted free agent

  • Deionte Thompson: Signed through 2022, $938,000 cap hit in 2021

  • Jalen Thompson: Signed through 2022, $936,000 cap hit in 2021

  • Charles Washington: Unrestricted free agent

Offseason needs

Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

2021 offseason need: Minimal

The Cardinals love Baker and Jalen Thompson. The question is whether they feel they can count on Thompson to stay healthy in 2021. Deionte Thompson is good depth but another fringe starter/special teams player would be useful. Perhaps Isaiah Simmons will take on a role at safety with his ability to play multiple positions. After that, with Banjo and Washington both unrestricted free agents, the Cardinals will need to reload their special teamers. Both would be solid players to bring back. Listen to the latest from Cards Wire's Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Latest show:

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