SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Budda Baker is really excited about this upcoming season.
“Just excited,” Baker tells 12Sports' Cameron Cox in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview.
That should help Cardinals fans breathe a little bit easier after the team released wide receiver Deandre Hopkins Friday morning.
This is the first time we’ve heard from Baker since his trade request became public in April. ESPN reported Baker is seeking a new contract. The 27-year-old has two years left on his current deal with no guaranteed money.
“For me personally, I’m just letting the business aspect handle the business aspect. Letting my agent handle all that type of stuff," he said. "I’m continuing to have tunnel vision on my work ethic, being the best person I can be outside of football and just enjoying life. Enjoying this offseason, enjoying working hard each and every day, and just excited to go back and play football again.”
Another thing to help the fans breathe easier: Baker plans on reporting to training camp.
“Oh yeah, of course I’ll be there when it’s time to be there," he said. "When it’s time to be there I’ll be there smiling and (be) the same regular guy that I am."
Baker has been absent from voluntary offseason workouts and organized team activities.
"I think Budda will show up when he wants to show up,” said Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon. “He's been awesome. He kind of wears us out a little bit with the tape and different things like that but he's working. He'll get himself ready to play.”
Baker is doing just that. He ended last season on the sidelines, missing the final two games after fracturing his shoulder.
“This whole offseason I’ve been focused on getting stronger and getting built better… I hate missing games. Being angry and being mad about not getting to play. That pissed me off. I want to never have a situation like that happen again.”
The five-time Pro Bowler says he's in the best shape of his six-year NFL career. He’s been training with strength coach Justin King at Built Better. They started by getting his shoulder healthy and then focused on Baker’s goal.
“First thing I told Justin is I want to run into O-lineman next year. Full speed. I’m heavier, but I’m also lighter on my feet. I’m faster, I’m quicker."
Some say the Cardinals are rebuilding, but Baker doesn’t see it that way.
"Budda Baker represents everything that we want this organization to be," said GM Monti Ossenfort during his introductory press conference in January.
Since then, Ossenfort admits he’s had conversations with Baker and his agent, and his thoughts haven’t changed on the safety. Telling reporters before the draft, “I think I've been clear how I feel about Budda as a person and as a player, and nothing about that has changed."
Catch the full interview and story with Budda Baker this Sunday on 12Sports Tonight at 10:30 p.m.