The Arizona Cardinals might have a problem involving one of their Pro Bowl players on offense, but we’re not talking about Kyler Murray. Instead, it’s starting center Rodney Hudson who skipped out on the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.
This came as a surprise, as Hudson had just been traded to the Cardinals last season when he received a new three-year, $30 million contract upon joining the team. Not to mention, head coach Kliff Kingsbury stated that Hudson’s absence was unexcused. There’s since been no other indication of where Hudson’s future stands with the Cards, but Kingsbury said, “We’re working through something with him.“, at the time of his absence.
Then, there’s this strange bit where the Cardinals tweeted a photo of four of their five offensive linemen, with only Hudson omitted. To make matters worse, they didn’t even wish the guy a happy birthday on July 12, despite wishing one to current Cardinal Myjai Sanders on the same day. What gives?
The Cardinals had Justin Pugh and Lecitus Smith fill in for Hudson in minicamp, but the team may have to prepare to be without their preferred center for much longer. A trade could be best if Hudson and the Cardinals can’t work through this presumably unresolved issue.
Here are three ideal Rodney Hudson trade scenarios to send the 33-year-old three-time Pro Bowl center to a new team in 2022.
Dallas Cowboys improve offensive interior
The Dallas Cowboys managed to have the highest-scoring offense in 2021 despite middling play from their center, Tyler Biadasz. He committed nine penalties, ranked 18th among 39 qualifiers per Pro Football Focus, finishing with a 69.3 pass block grade and a 68.7 run block grade.
While Hudson actually graded worse (31st out of 39) , his peak playing days have shown the capability to be much better. For the Cowboys, trading for Hudson would be taking the chance on him returning to top form. He’s missed a total of six games since 2016, so it’s not like Hudson’s battled several injuries. He’s 33, but other centers have managed to be effective late in their careers, such as Alex Mack who just retired at the age of 36.
Trading for Hudson by parting with a mid-round selection, wouldn’t set the Cowboys back much, and if he can be anything close to the elite pass blocker we once saw, Dak Prescott‘s chances to stay on the field should improve too.
Denver Broncos solidify the trenches for Russ
Still pursuing his first Super Bowl ring, Rodney Hudson would be a welcome addition for the Denver Broncos, helping Russell Wilson and Co. establish themselves as the best team in the AFC West. He’d get to go against two of his former teams, as Hudson previously played four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and six seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders.
- Rodney Hudson contract: $12.6 million cap hit in 2022, $11 million in 2023
While he took a leap forward in his second season, Lloyd Cushenberry III has underwhelmed as the team’s starting center, allowing five sacks and committing seven penalties in 2021. Hudson committed one penalty and allowed just one sack, and actually played 43 more snaps. If the Broncos are serious about making a strong push for a deep postseason run, looking into a trade for one of the better pass-blocking centers of the past decade should be considered.
Rodney Hudson fills need for Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are hoping Garrett Bradbury takes a leap as he prepares for his fourth season as their starting center. But if they have aspirations to truly contend, at some point they’ll have to realize Bradbury just doesn’t hold up in the trenches. According to Pro Football Focus, the former first-round pick finished with the third-worst pass-block grade among centers in 2021.
If the new regime doesn’t lead to better results from Bradbury, a preseason signing such as JC Tretter, or trading for a proven veteran like Rodney Hudson shouldn’t be ruled out. Hudson is coming off his worst season yet, and he actually graded lower than Bradbury per PFF (57.4 vs 60.2), but we’re giving the three-time Pro Bowl center the benefit of the doubt, banking on the idea of a bounceback year, even at 33.
There are reasons to believe Hudson could immediately prove more effective than Bradbury in the Vikings’ offense. Hudson didn’t commit a single penalty across 799 snaps last season. Bradbury committed five penalties in 883 snaps. One other area where Hudson has always been stronger than Bradbury is in pass protection. Even in his worst year (2021), Hudson’s lowest pass-block grade was 66.8, which is still over 20 points higher than Bradbury’s best year (43.7 in 2021).
Basically, even if Hudson’s skills are diminishing, even his floor has been better than Bradbury’s ceiling. The only unknown factor is if Bradbury can still stretch his peaks a bit higher. That’s exactly what the new coaching staff hopes to find out, but if early returns are ugly, trading for Hudson would be a cheap fix as the trade compensation would likely only be a mid-round selection.