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Safety Budda Baker 'all-in' with Cardinals after settling contract situation 

Budda Baker's focus and fortitude are among the attributes that have contributed to him being one of the NFL's premier safeties.

With a trade request now behind him, Baker made it clear Friday that he's fully committed to his Arizona Cardinals, never mind the contract squabbles or the prognostications of many that a season of struggles lies ahead.

"I'm all-in," Baker told reporters on Friday afternoon. "This is early in the process, we're in training camp; for me it's all outside noise, I don't really pay attention to none of the projections and all those things, because at the end of the day that's people's opinions. And they're not in the building, they're not working with us each and every day. They don't know; it's just their opinion and I'm OK with that. Like the Cardinals Instagram, I've seen the disrespect, and it's OK, because at the end of the day what matters is who's in the building, the players around us and the grind we put in each and every week. And I'm not counting us out for anything, so I'm excited."

Back in April, Baker requested a trade out of Arizona, but earlier this week had his concerns quelled for now when he received a pay bump for each of the next two seasons -- the last two of his contract.

Baker, a five-time Pro Bowler, was looking for an extension commensurate with his standing among the elite safeties in league as a four-year, $59 million extension signed in 2020 had seen him slip down to the seventh-highest-paid safety on an annual basis. While Baker wasn't bestowed with an extension and certainly was dismayed considering his request, he was clear Friday that he's invested in staying with the club that selected him in the 2017 NFL Draft's second round for the long run.

"I mean yeah, of course," Baker said when asked if he was hopeful of remaining in Arizona long-term. "I've been drafted here, I know it wasn't the same coach or the same (general manager), but it's the same owner. And I was drafted here, been here six years, going on seven, it's been awesome for me. I love Arizona, I love Arizona fans, and I'll continue to play to the best of my ability and that will be at a high level each and every year. So, of course."

Baker's trade request/contract issues have hardly been the only drama in the desert for the Cardinals so far this year.

Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon are on as the new GM and head coach, respectively, replacing Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury. Franchise quarterback Kyler Murray is on the comeback trail after tearing his ACL at the tail end of a disastrous 4-13 season. Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was released and has since signed with the Tennessee Titans. Defensive end J.J. Watt retired and fellow DE Zach Allen signed with the Denver Broncos.

A largely new-look Cardinals squad will take the field in 2023. Not Baker, though.

A leader in the locker room and a standout on the field, Baker has been a constant for the Cards no matter the turbulence or triumphs in his six years with the club, which has tallied just one winning season in the safety's career so far. Baker has never played in fewer than 14 games in a season, has compiled 100-plus tackles in four campaigns and has been a Pro Bowler for three years running.

His commitment to his team and maintaining his Pro Bowl-caliber play was likewise evident as he talked about coming back from a shoulder fracture.

"I started my career here, of course, then going on to my fourth coaching staff, and this coaching staff is a great coaching staff that I'm blessed to have an opportunity to be coached by, and it's been great just being in contact with them, understand the playbook from afar and just getting ready for the season," Baker said when asked if he felt like he was back at home. "You know that was my main goal, getting ready for training camp, and it's been great."

Baker's shoulder is healed up, financial fences have been mended for now and the Cardinals' two-time All-Pro safety unsurprisingly made it clear he remains devoted to his craft and his Cards.

"I've just been grinding, letting outside noise be the outside noise and kinda laughing at it here and there, getting some smiles, getting some laughs out of it, but just understanding that if I put my head down and grind everything else will take care of itself," Baker said of what his summer's been like. "And that's what I've been doing, and I feel great."

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