What Does Budda Baker's Extension Mean for Seahawks, Jamal Adams?
The Cardinals announced Tuesday morning they have agreed to an extension for Pro Bowl safety and former Washington standout Budda Baker on a four-year, $59 million deal. The contract averages to about $14.75 million per season, a new record for the position.
Baker has established himself as a solid safety in the NFC, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods for his special teams exploits in his rookie year in 2017 and now is also a Pro Bowl safety thanks to an outstanding 2019 campaign. The former Husky started all 16 games, with 147 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks. He seems to be only getting better and some Seattle fans bemoaned the Seahawks passing on him during the 2017 draft multiple times.
Now, however, the Seahawks have a solid free safety in Quandre Diggs, who they traded for last October. They also have a player who is coming off of an even better season than Baker in Jamal Adams, who earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2019. The new Seahawks' safety is just a few months older than Baker and will become a free agent after the 2021 season.
Obviously, the urgency to get an extension done with Adams is not as present as it was with Baker, who was entering his final season under his rookie deal. However, sometime this season or early in the 2020-2021 offseason, the story becomes if and when Seattle wants to extend their shiny new All-Pro safety. And how much will he command?
In a few words... a lot.
First off, though Baker and Adams are different types of safeties, Adams is a much better overall player. In the last two years, Baker has averaged a 68.7 Pro Football Focus score while Adams is up in the stratosphere at 88.9.
There is no safety set to be a free agent after the 2020 season that is better than Adams or a better combination of ability and youth than Baker. Justin Simmons is due for an extension in Denver and may flirt with Baker's number given his solid 2019 season.
With Baker setting the record for highest paid safety, expect Adams to completely re-write the record books. Word on the street is that Adams was eyeing $16 million per year even before this deal went down in Arizona.
Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Adams agreed to play the 2020 season on his rookie deal, thus tabling extension talks until after this upcoming campaign. However, that won't stop the media or social platforms from making it a hot topic of discussion. Everyone loves talking about money and potential new contracts for star players.
When this season ends, the first story will likely be "when will the Adams extension happen?" Not only that but, what will the extension look like? Assuming Adams plays like he has so far in New York, Seattle will want to keep him around as long as possible. At just 24 years old, he could feasibly sign a big deal and still be young enough for a second big payday later in his career, whether it be with the Seahawks or elsewhere.
Talking numbers, let's say Adams gets $16.5 million over five years, which is $82.5 million total. That would completely reset the market in average yearly salary for a safety, breaking Baker's mark. Landon Collins currently owns the largest contract in total value for a safety at $84 million over six seasons with Washington. If Adams wanted to break that total as well, Seattle would need to add a sixth year to the deal.
Assuming he plays like he did in New York, or even improves in a new scheme, that won't be cause for much murmuring, putting him at $99 million. Such a deal would be out of character for general manager John Schneider, however, who typically prefers four-year pacts.
Nonetheless, Seattle is projected to have over $54 million in cap space next year according to OvertheCap.com, with several key players coming off the books in Greg Olsen and K.J. Wright. That number could be impacted by COVID-19, but there's still ample financial flexibility available. The Seahawks could feasibly reach a deal next winter for Adams, who would become a well-compensated asset to this defense for years to come.