Arizona Cardinals upgrade at center should be tremendous

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Rodney Hudson
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Rodney Hudson /

The acquisition of center Rodney Hudson could turn out to be the most impactful move of the 2021 offseason for the Arizona Cardinals.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the Arizona Cardinals offensive line in 2020 was the center position.

Former Cardinals starting center Mason Cole, according to Pro Football Focus, was ranked an embarrassing 31st-overall among the NFL’s centers last season. Lamont Gaillard, the unit’s fill-in at the spot from time to time, didn’t fare much better.

The pressure was on for Arizona general manager Steve Keim to address the issue this year and an answer for the problem ended up falling squarely into his lap.

An outstanding center from the AFC comes to the rescue for the Arizona Cardinals

This past March, the Cardinals sent their third-round draft pick in 2021 to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for center Rodney Hudson, a three-time Pro Bowler. It was a savvy move by Keim, who managed to pull off the deal just before Las Vegas was going to release the 31-year-old center.

Keim certainly deserves kudos for his quick action in acquiring Hudson from the Raiders. Rumors were circulating that the 6-foot-2, 315-pounder was preparing to return to the Kansas City Chiefs, the team that had drafted him back in 2011.

Obviously, the agreement that Keim and the Cardinals worked out with Las Vegas general manager Mike Mayock put a wrench into Hudson’s plans. The Redbirds quickly attempted to smooth things over with the veteran blocker by signing him to a three-year, $30 million contract extension, a deal that includes $16 million in guarantees.

The well-respected website, Pro Football Focus, believes that Arizona’s front office has landed professional football’s best center heading into the upcoming campaign. Hudson has received the league’s top pass-blocking rating from the site’s experts for five consecutive years (2015-19), and they ranked him the seventh-best at his position in that category last fall.

Hudson’s arrival should have Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray jumping for joy. It appeared that the squad’s starting signal-caller was under siege way too often in 2020 with Cole and Gaillard anchoring Big Red’s blocking unit.

J.J. Watt, Malcolm Butler, A.J. Green, James Conner, Matt Prater, and rookie Zaven Collins are all outstanding additions who should earn Arizona’s personnel department high marks.

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But when all is said and done, it will not be surprising in the least if the talented Hudson has the greatest impact for the Cards in 2021.