The Green Bay Packers still have some pressing needs heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, but instead of taking a chance on an unproven rookie, general manager Brian Gutekunst could take a big swing by trading for a five-time Pro Bowler.
Safety is a huge need for the Packers, with all the veterans currently under contract set to be free agents in 2024. To make matters worse, the 2023 safety class is weaker than usual with just one prospect in the top 50 of the consensus big board.
Fortunately for the Packers, one prominent safety is now potentially available with Arizona Cardinals star Budda Baker requesting a trade. The Packers may not have to give up much in a trade offer for the three-time All-Pro, and Julia Stumbaugh with Bleacher Report believes that Green Bay is a top landing spot for the 27-year-old.
“[Adrian] Amos has started every game for the Packers over the last four seasons and set a career high with 102 tackles in 2022,” Stumbaugh said. “Green Bay will not be able to replace that kind of reliability with its in-house options. If Amos walks, it could find a starter in the draft—or consider Baker.”
Can The Packers Afford A Star Safety?
As exciting as a trade for Baker would be for Packers fans, the financial situation makes things a bit trickier for Green Bay.
The Packers currently have more cap space than most NFL teams with over $21 million. However, the vast majority of that salary cap will be used on the dead hit incurred in an Aaron Rodgers trade along with contracts for upcoming rookies. Things will look much brighter in 2024 once Rodgers’ contract is off the books however, with a projected $53 million in cap space the following season.
Baker has two years remaining on his $59 million contract extension, with caps hits of $16.8 million in 2023 and $18 million in 2024. To go along with that, Baker is requesting to be the highest-paid safety in the league in his next extension according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
That’s a lot of money that the Packers would need to set aside for a star defender, but the team has other upcoming extensions that they need to take care of. Rashan Gary, Jon Runyan Jr., and even quarterback Jordan Love (barring a fifth-year option) are all on the final year of their deals with negotiations upcoming for big paydays.
If the Packers were somehow able to clear more room, Baker is a possible target, but their upcoming financial situation makes things trickier than it would be for another team interested in the star safety.
Latest On Aaron Rodgers
While the Packers are gearing up for this year’s draft, a trade that would send Rodgers to the New York Jets has yet to be finalized.
Despite Rodgers announce his intentions to play in New York more than a month ago, the two sides have been unable to finalize a deal. Charles Robinson with Yahoo! Sports reported that the Packers asking price is a 2023 second-round pick and a first-round pick in 2024, but Jets owner Woody Johnson is hesitant after Rodgers said he was leaning towards retiring this offseason.
There’s a chance that a deal gets done before or during this year’s draft, but the two sides continue to be dug in, and Schefter believes that there’s a chance trade negotiations could drag on past the 2023 NFL Draft.
All signs continue to point towards Rodgers playing for the Jets in 2023, but it’s still unclear when that will be made official.