Fans of the Arizona Cardinals were a bit surprised by the new coaching staff's choice for a starting center. After all, free-agent addition Hjalte Froholdt had started just six games during his NFL career. Surely, the native of Denmark would be exposed by some of the league's best defensive lines when the schedule got underway in September.
Through 13 weeks, Froholdt has succeeded in proving his many detractors wrong. The new anchor of the Cards offensive line has made a seamless transition to his new squad, settling in nicely as the unit's fearless leader. Did general manager Monti Ossenfort acquire a diamond in the rough when he signed Froholdt to a two-year deal back in March?
Froholdt spent the past couple of seasons with the Cleveland Browns, a team that snatched him off of the Houston Texans practice squad back in October of 2021. Last season, the 6 foot 5, 310 pounder gained his only starting experience as a pro, registering starts at both center and right guard for Cleveland.
The 27-year-old Froholdt's connection with the Cardinals came through Drew Petzing, the first-year offensive coordinator who was previously employed by the Browns. As an assistant coach with Cleveland, Petzing got to witness firsthand what the versatile blocker could bring to the table. Froholdt obviously came highly recommended, and Ossenfort wasted no time in coaxing the mauling center to flock to the desert.
Hjalte Froholdt has shored up the center position for the Arizona Cardinals
Froholdt got the attention of the football world during a preseason clash with the Denver Broncos, when a pair of his blocks went viral. The former New England Patriots draft selection pancaked two Broncos defenders, much to the delight of the "Red Sea". Froholdt completely demolished cornerback Damarri Mathis, and his takedown of former Cards defensive end Zach Allen was just as vicious.
Just a year ago, the previous regime turned the center spot into a bona fide disaster for the Redbirds. Former GM Steve Keim foolishly attempted to squeeze another season out of Rodney Hudson, a former Pro Bowler who's body had broken down. The Cardinals were then forced to turn to Billy Price, a former first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals who had morphed into a journeyman.
Ossenfort and company were aware that the issue needed to be addressed, and Froholdt has been a breath of fresh air for the Cards scoring attack. As unlikely as it may it have seemed during the offseason, it appears that the club has found a keeper at center. Next up for Froholdt should be a contract extension that would keep the veteran in the Arizona sunshine for the next several years.