The Green Bay Packers have some glaring holes remaining on their roster heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, but general manager Brian Gutekunst could add a disgruntled star at a position of need in a reasonable trade.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Friday, April 14 that Arizona Cardinals star safety Budda Baker had requested a trade. With all of the changes happening in Arizona, the three-time All-Pro specifically requested either to be traded or be made the highest-paid safety in the NFL, according to Schefter.
That presents a unique situation for Gutekunst and the Packers. With any viable safeties on the roster only under contract through 2023, the Packers could add a long-term star at the position by trading for Baker. Green Bay is considered a top landing spot for Baker if he’s traded, and the Packers could offer the Cardinals draft capital plus a safety on a more reasonable deal to acquire the 27-year-old safety.
Packers Receive: S Budda Baker
Cardinals Receive: S Darnell Savage, 2023 third-round pick
Savage has been previously linked in a potential Aaron Rodgers trade, and is unlikely to return to Green Bay once he hits free agency in 2024. The move would get Savage’s $7.9 million fifth-year option off the books for 2023, making it easier for the Packers to take on Baker’s contract in this trade scenario.
Can The Packers Afford Budda Baker?
While Packers fans would love to acquire such a talented safety in Baker, the 27-year-old won’t come cheap, making things even more complicated for the team’s limited cap situation.
The Packers currently have $21 million in cap space for 2023, but the majority of that will be allocated to the dead cap hit they receive when Rodgers is inevitably traded along with rookie contracts for draft picks. If Rodgers’ contract is off the books for 2024, then the team will be in better shape with over $44 million to work with.
Baker still has two years remaining on his $59 million contract extension, with cap hits of nearly $16.9 million in 2023 and $18 million in 2024. The 27-year-old also wants to be the highest-paid safety in the league in an extension that would start in 2025, which would have to exceed the $19 million per year that Los Angeles Chargers star Derwin James is currently making.
An extension could be possible if Baker was in Green Bay, but the Packers also have upcoming extensions to negotiate with key players including Rashan Gary, Jon Runyan Jr., and potentially quarterback Jordan Love.
It’s not impossible, but acquiring Baker would require some creative cap management from the Packers.
Latest on Aaron Rodgers Trade
It has been a month since Rodgers first said on The Pat McAfee Show that he intends to play for the Jets in 2023. However, as the weeks go on without a trade getting finalized, doubt is starting to creep in for Packers and Jets fans.
Charles Robinson with Yahoo! Sports revealed the Packers asking price in a Rodgers trade, with the team requesting a second-round pick in 2023 and a guaranteed first-round pick in 2024. Robinson also revealed that the two teams had a deal in place, but Jets owner Woody Johnson got cold feet when Rodgers revealed on McAfee that he was leaning towards retirement prior to his darkness retreat.
Now, the two teams are dug in according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and there’s a chance that trade negotiations could drag on beyond the 2023 NFL Draft. If that’s the case, then there’s a chance that it could be another month (or longer) before there’s a resolution to the Rodgers trade drama.