DeAndre Hopkins and Budda Baker Absent From Cardinals OTAs
The Arizona Cardinals opened up their OTAs on Monday. However, two familiar names were absent from practice. Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and safety Budda Baker were not in attendance.
While it’s not all that surprising, considering Hopkins was the subject of trade rumors all offseason and Baker requested a trade (or a new contract) in April, it’s a concerning start for the Cardinals after a troubling offseason.
Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon didn’t seem to concerned with Hopkins’ absence:
“I’m not worried about Hop. He’s played a long time,” coach Jonathan Gannon said following Monday’s workouts. “He’s extremely intelligent, and I think he’ll fit right in when he decides to come. But again, it’s voluntary and his decision, and we’re behind it.”
Still, it’s important for the new coaching staff to have as much time as possible with all their players, especially with two key players like Hopkins and Baker.
DeAndre Hopkins laid out his reasoning for not attending the voluntary OTAs this week on a recent episode of the ‘I AM ATHLETE’ podcast:
“To go to the voluntary stuff early in your career and even later in your career of it makes sense for you, but for certain athletes, I feel like at a certain level, they know their body, and there’s not too much they’re going to get out of being at a (team) facility when they can be somewhere like I am,” Hopkins told former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall and host Ashley Nicole Moss.
“The NFL hires great trainers,” Hopkins continued, “but at a certain year and a certain level of your career, I just think that going with who you know and who knows your body the best will get you your best returns.”
Alright. But what about his future in Arizona? DeAndre Hopkins discussed the three things he wants in his next playing situation on that episode of the ‘I AM ATHLETE’ podcast.
“What I want is stable management upstairs. That’s something I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston and then to Arizona,” he said. “A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him, not just himself but everybody. … And a great defense. A great defense wins championships.”
Many on social media turned that into a “where does DeAndre Hopkins want to play next?” scenario. However, Hopkins continued and insinuated that Arizona is close to having all three of those things.
“This is Monti’s first year as GM, but from what I understand and from talking to Monti, I think Arizona is in good hands,” Hopkins said, referring to first-year General Manager Monti Ossenfort, adding the defense “is good.”
“We have Budda Baker, Isaiah Simmons,” he said. “… And Kyler is a quarterback who loves the game, but he’s injured. Right now, I’m playing with Colt McCoy, who I love. But who knows? Right now, I currently don’t have a Pro Bowl quarterback.”
Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon said, “We’ve had good conversations. I’ll keep those between us,” he said. “But I like Hop,” when asked whether the All-Pro wide receiver would be sticking around in Arizona.
Since January, rumors have been swirling about Hopkins possibly being traded. However, he has remained tight-lipped about the matter. Currently, the Cardinals are prioritizing their efforts toward rebuilding and considering trading Hopkins. Hopkins is slated to make $19.4 million this year and $14.9 million in 2024. Additionally, starting quarterback Kyler Murray may not be available for the first few weeks of the season due to knee surgery. Despite these challenges, Arizona is making progress in addressing all three issues.
Baker spent the first six seasons of his career with the Cardinals. The 27-year-old is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-team All-Pro. As it stands now, Baker is owed $13.06 million in 2023 and $14.2 million in 2024. However, any team trading for Baker should operate under the assumption that Baker will want a new contract with his new team.
Baker is the seventh highest-paid safety in the NFL right now, according to OTC. Derwin James leads the pack with an annual salary of $19 million. So, Baker will likely want to be in that ballpark with a new contract at 27 years old. Baker started 15 games for Arizona last season, recording 75 solo tackles before suffering a fractured shoulder on Christmas. Through 93 career games played, Baker has 7.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and 468 solo tackles.
The Cardinals have two more rounds of OTAs before the mandatory minicamp on June 13-15. If Hopkins and Baker were to skip the mandatory minicamp, the club could fine them.