Any time a star player is rumored to be on the move, you can guarantee Raider Nation is campaigning for the franchise to acquire them. It is hard to blame the fan base for these expectations, especially with the acquisition of All-Pro wideout Davante Adams last offseason. Could Cardinals safety Budda Baker be a target for Vegas at some point in 2023?
Assessing The Raiders Week 1 Depth Chart At Safety
Before highlighting the player, let’s look at the current Raiders depth chart to assess where things stand. Raiders.com lists Trevon Moehrig as the starting free safety, with veteran Marcus Epps serving opposite him at strong safety. Behind them is offseason star Isaiah Pola-Mao and Roderic Teamer, an expected special team’s weapon.
Fifth-round rookie Chris Smith is the final safety on the initial 53-man depth chart. But don’t let this placement fool you; he boasts starting-caliber traits. The coaching staff is likely easing the former Georgia Bulldog into the swing of things in Year 1, so don’t expect too much in the first month of the season.
Do these five names move the needle enough for the Raiders? Or should general manager Dave Ziegler seek a higher-upside option on the trade market?
The particular player in question is Arizona Cardinals standout Budda Baker. The once-Washington Husky has been a top safety in the NFL since he arrived via the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The organization has been put through the wringer during Baker’s tenure, making his trade request all the more understandable.
Pro Football Focus gave Baker a career-high grade in coverage in 2022, highlighted by his three pass breakups and two interceptions. He also fetched a sparkling rating as a run defender, sitting north of 80 on the grading scale. Both traits would help any defense around the league, perhaps none more so than the one in Vegas.
Going further, Baker lined up all over the field. He logged 349 snaps in the box, 413 as a deep safety, and 148 in the slot. If there is anything defensive coordinators love, it is a chess piece for the backend of the defense. Patrick Graham is no different.
Budda Baker: A Temptation For GM Dave Ziegler
The Raiders don’t necessarily need to trade for Budda Baker, but no one in Raider Nation would complain if they did. Moehrig is an okay player, though he survives off potential more than his actual play on the gridiron. Epps’ experience is valuable to the young secondary, but his ceiling falls far below Baker’s. Frankly, Baker would be a massive improvement over each guy.
A potential trade would also require the Cardinals to be willing to move him. Based on their offseason moves, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a deal that works for all parties. But this incarnation of the Raiders hinges on successful draft picks. Can Ziegler really afford to deplete his future assets?
The odds are against it. Although Baker presents a drastic upgrade at safety relative to what Vegas currently has, the asking price is likely too high at the moment.
Perhaps it comes down to a reasonable level by the trade deadline on Oct. 31. If the Raiders find themselves surprisingly in the thick of the playoff race, a move for Baker could put them over the top. Keep tabs on the superstar defender, but don’t expect an imminent trade.
*Top Photo: Getty Images