Why Budda Baker to Vikings Would Make Sense

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Outwardly, the Minnesota Vikings don’t really need extra help at the safety position in 2023.

The club employs Harrison Smith, Lewis Cine, Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, Jay Ward, and Theo Jackson at the roster spot.

Why Budda Baker to Vikings Would Make Sense

But in an article forecasting bold training camp predictions, Bleacher Report spitballed Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker to the Vikings via trade, adding another prominent name to an already deep Minnesota safety room.

Why Budda Baker
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The idea might generate the thought from some, “They don’t need another safety.” And while that is accurate, the mindset overlooks one aspect of the Vikings long-term defense: Harrison Smith will not play football too much longer.

For context, BR‘s Maurice Moton described the Baker-to-Vikings trade theory like this, “Even though the Minnesota Vikings are at a contract impasse with defensive end Danielle Hunter, Baker may not want to reset the safety market with a viable contender (based on the wording in Schefter’s report). Perhaps the Vikings can satisfy Hunter and Baker with short-term pay raises; they have $18 million in cap space.”

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Indeed, Minnesota ranks eighth in available cap space as of July 12th, rarified air for a team typically cash-strapped heading into an NFL season.

‘In the early weeks of training camp, Minnesota may not see enough out of second-year safety Lewis Cine, who’s coming off a compound leg fracture that required surgery, to trust him in a starting role. As a solution to bolster a pass defense that gave up the second-most yards last year, the Vikings could make an attempt to acquire Baker,” Moton concluded.

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Ideally, the aforementioned Cine blossoms as a second-year safety, and Vikings fans forget all about any Baker trade theorized from the summer before. That’s the goal. Yet, that could be merely an optimist’s view, and Cine’s 2023 production will be showcased in concrete from September to January as a verdict.

A proposed Baker trade need not entirely impact Cine, though. Onboarding Baker would plan for life after Smith, who turned 34 this offseason. The Vikings reworked Smith’s deal in March, as the longtime defender accepted a paycut and will stay in Minnesota for at least one more year.

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Smith won’t be a part of the NFL for too much longer — plain and simple. He’ll turn 35 next February, and 2023 or 2024 will probably be his last as a pro. Vikings fans are nearing the end of the road with one of their favorite players in franchise history.

Baker, on the other hand, is 27 and doesn’t turn 28 until January. If the Vikings pulled off the Moton-inspired trade and added years onto Baker’s next contract, he could fill the strong safety spot after Smith and maintain Minnesota’s way of living at the position.

Like all trades proposed in July articles, Baker to Minnesota is unlikely to materialize. But as one contemplates how it could work, it’s safe to assume Baker would replace Smith in 2024 or 2025 — not Cine in 2023.

Baker is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.