Jets Pushed to Cut $14.5M Starter, Use Money to Trade for Star

Jordan Whitehead, Jets

Getty New York Jets safety Jordan Whitehead getting himself ready ahead of an NFL game.

Every time a really good player becomes available, New York Jets’ social media tries to figure out a way how they can acquire that player.

That was once again the case on Friday, April 14.

Adam Schefter of ESPN set social media ablaze when he tweeted that Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker has now “requested” a trade.

The Jet Press suggested on Twitter that the team could “release” veteran Jordan Whitehead and then “replace him with Baker.”

Exploring the Possibility of a Wild Jets Switch at Safety

Whitehead has one year left on his $14.5 million contract. If the Jets cut him they could save over $7.5 million on the cap.

In theory with those new savings, the Jets could then acquire a certain disgruntled Cardinals safety via trade.

According to Field Yates of ESPN if a team were to trade for Baker they’d owe him $13.096 million in 2023 and $14.2 million in 2024.

Whitehead is coming off a down year with the Jets in 2022. According to the Pro Football Focus grades, the former Pittsburgh product regressed in every single category from 2021 to 2022:

  • 66.1 overall
  • 59.4 run defense
  • 51.7 pass rush
  • 70.6 coverage

The Jets protected themselves from that possibility by building an out in the contract this offseason. So far the team has chosen not to exercise it, but there is a lot of time left in the offseason.

Budda Baker on the other hand is coming off of a career season. According to those same Pro Football Focus grades, the former Washington product improved in every single category from 2021 to 2022:

  • 73.7 overall
  • 80.2 run defense
  • 59.0 pass rush
  • 69.1 coverage

A Few Potential Problems With Jets-Budda Baker Marriage

Shortly after Schefter shared that Baker requested a trade from the Cardinals, he shared an additional update that could change everything.

According to a team source Baker “informed the Cardinals in February that he wanted to be traded or receive a new deal to make him the highest-paid safety.”

People have interpreted this in different ways on social media.

On one hand, it appears that Baker demanded to receive a top-market salary from the Cardinals. However, if you parse the words it sounds like Budda wants out of Arizona or the only way he would stay is if they made him the highest-paid safety.

Currently, the highest-paid safety in the NFL is Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers, per Over The Cap. He is set to make $19 million in 2023.

Baker’s $14.75 million salary next season places him No. 7 on the highest-paid safety list, per Over The Cap.

If the talented safety wants a new mega deal, he might not be a fit for the Jets. General manager Joe Douglas has his own mega contract to negotiate with Quinnen Williams.

The safety position is an obvious need and Baker is an amazing player that has an incredible resume.

In six seasons Baker has forced six fumbles, intercepted seven passes, registered 7.5 sacks, and hit the quarterback 15 times.

So it’ll be an interesting back-and-forth conversation in the Jets building if they want to pursue a trade of this caliber.

On one hand, it could be incredibly short-sighted. However, the team is preaching an aggressive mindset during this winning window.

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