Although it’s a high price to pay, the Cardinals now have one of the NFL’s most talented defensive backfields with Baker joining All Pros Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
Undersized at just under 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds, Baker is billed as a ferocious competitor with outstanding speed and instincts. He has been compared to former Colts Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders for his ability to attack the line of scrimmage in the run game and timely blitzes.
Arizona has lost seven players in free agency this season, including two of the top 13 on the market, as ranked by NFL.com, in DL Calais Campbell and DB Tony Jefferson. Also gone is LB Kevin Minter. A team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks, per league rules. The Cardinals have not signed a player who was ranked in NFL.com’s top 101 free agents, so the expectation that Arizona will be receiving compensatory picks is certainly reasonable. Compensatory picks are awarded for Rounds 3-6.
The Cardinals hold the Nos. 13, 45 and 77 selections over the first three rounds of this year’s draft. Among their primary needs are linebacker, quarterback and defensive back.
With his rookie contract expiring, Floyd was set to reach free agency in March. All but eliminated from the playoff picture following last week’s loss at Miami, the Cardinals opted to pull the cord with three games remaining in a disappointing season.
Floyd was set up for a monstrous contract year after closing out last season with five 100-yard performances in the final eight games. Instead, the enigmatic receiver was one of the primary culprits in Arizona’s broken aerial attack this season, vanishing for long stretches and failing to make contested catches.
While it’s a minor setback, the Cardinals will certainly keep their eyes on the speedy wide receiver. Brown struggled with hamstring issues last season on top of a sickle-cell trait issue and a cyst on his spine, which was removed in January.
Since then, the narrative has improved for a player who caught 65 balls for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns back in 2015. As last year showed, he is a game breaker critical for unlocking Arians’ air raid system to its full potential.
“I want to thank the Cardinals organization, especially Mr. Bidwill and cheap jerseys and Steve Keim for drafting and believing in me, and their continued support,” Washington released in a statement. “We’ve had some really positive and productive discussions this week, and at the end of the day we mutually agreed it was best for both sides to get a fresh start. I’m in the best shape of my life, and very much look forward to the next opportunity, where I will again play at an All-Pro level and help my team make a championship run.”
Washington, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2013, was conditionally reinstated by the NFL earlier this week. He had been suspended since May 2014 for violating the league’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The ban was tied to a marijuana violation, for which Washington sought counseling.
And damn, the Cardinals have had a lot of homes. They were the Morgan Athletic Club (The MAC!), the Racine Normals (a.k.a., best name ever) and the Racine Cardinals. And, no, that’s not the town in Wisconsin — rather, it’s the street they were housed in on the South Side. Then it was St. Louis, Phoenix and Arizona.
I think I just buried the lede here: It’s been 69 years since the franchise has won a title. That’s the longest streak in North America professional sports, thanks in part to the Chicago Cubs’ World Series win last year. And the Bears played football at Wrigley Field, so I guess it all comes full circle.