Rodney Hudson

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Rodney Hudson is a no-show in Arizona. The veteran center hasn’t attended Cardinals mandatory minicamp and doesn’t have an excused absence, coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters (via Darren Urban of the team’s website). The coach wouldn’t reveal why Hudson was staying away from the team, just noting that the two sides were “working through something.”

[RELATED: Center Billy Price To Visit Cardinals]

Hudson was acquired by the Cardinals last offseason, and he started each of his 12 games in 2021 while missing a handful of appearances thanks to rib and shoulder injuries. The 32-year-old still has two years remaining on the three-year, $30MM extension he signed Arizona following his trade from the Raiders. Of course, the offensive lineman’s absence may have nothing to do with money, and considering the Cardinals don’t really have a path to get out of his 2022 salary, it’d make more sense if the front office pursued a reworked deal next offseason. We’ll likely learn more about the situation if Hudson’s absence extends into the preseason.

With the Cardinals down a man, the organization has turned to veteran guard Justin Pugh to pick up the slack at center. Speaking to reporters, Pugh said switching positions could ultimately extend his career.

“I could see myself playing center,” Pugh said. “I’ve capped out money-wise at guard. Why not go out and see if I can play center? In this offseason, with Kyler (Murray), center is a very important position. There are a lot of centers that play older in their years, because physically it’s not as demanding. Mentally it’s much more intense, and that’s where I think I can succeed.

“We’ll try it out. We’ll see how it goes. If I don’t play real well, you’ll see me at left guard.”

Pugh also admitted that he considered hanging up his cleats following the 2021 campaign, and he made it clear that his frustration was due to the pay cut he accepted prior to the season. Ultimately, Pugh re-signed with the organization this offseason on a one-year, $5.5MM pact, and while he ultimately decided to let bygones be bygones, he still sounded a bit worked up about the money he had to sacrifice last year.

“All of a sudden, it’s ‘I’m going to cut your pay,’ and I don’t care what you do, someone cuts your pay by 33 percent, you’re not going to be happy,” Pugh said. “Then you factor in how much you love the game, how much you love being around the guys, how much you love to compete, and there is no dollar amount that can fill that gap.”

Other than Pugh, the Cardinals have limited options at center. As Urban writes, veteran Sean Harlow has some experience playing the position, but similar to Pugh, he’s more of an offensive guard. The team has also tried rookie guard Lecitus Smith at the position throughout minicamp. The team also brought in Billy Price on a free agent visit.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Chiefs, Dupree, Weddle

First-round draft pick Alex Leatherwood had an up-and-down rookie season in Las Vegas. After struggling a bit at right tackle, Leatherwood was moved to guard to fill in after injuries to starters Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the Raiders’ former staff intended to move Leatherwood back to his drafted position next season.

The decision is now out of their hands and in the hands of new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo. With Kolton Miller set at left tackle and Andre James filling in admirably this season with the loss of center Rodney Hudson in a trade to the Cardinals last year, the Raiders have three offensive line spots with which to play around. Bricillo’s placement of Leatherwood will likely depend on how they choose to address those open positions.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with another note from the West:

Minor NFL Transactions:  12/16/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Placed on IR: LB Ronnie Perkins

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Wes Martin
  • Promoted: WR Pharoh Cooper

New York Jets

Washington Football Team

Cardinals Activate Rodney Hudson, Place J.J. Watt On IR

SATURDAY: Hudson will indeed come off IR this week. He is back on the Cardinals’ active roster. Arizona moved J.J. Watt to IR to make room. While GM Steve Keim is hopeful the prized free agency acquisition will not miss the rest of the season with his litany of upper-body injuries, the Cards made the expected IR transaction. If Watt is to play again this season, it will not happen for a while.

TUESDAY: The Cardinals will soon have their center back. They designated Rodney Hudson for a return from IR on Tuesday, according to the team. The veteran snapper has spent the past three weeks on IR due to rib and shoulder injuries.

An on-schedule return would have the 11th-year blocker back in the Cardinals’ lineup Sunday, when they face the 49ers in the teams’ rematch. Arizona has 21 days to activate Hudson from IR.

Hudson, 32, came over in a March trade with the Raiders, who dismantled their veteran-laden O-line this offseason. The three-time Pro Bowler ranks 10th among centers in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric, though Pro Football Focus has Hudson as its 25th overall center this season. Hudson has made a difference in the Cards’ run game. Despite Kyler Murray having only rushed for 147 yards, the NFC West leaders rank seventh in rushing.

Having Hudson back would be a nice bonus for a Cardinals team that has seen several notable injuries crop up. In addition to J.J. Watt‘s potential season-ending array of upper-body injuries, Murray is not a lock to suit up Sunday due to the sprained ankle he sustained late in last week’s loss to the Packers. DeAndre Hopkins is also battling a hamstring ailment.

Raiders Notes: Davis, Mayock, Hudson

As a result of Jon Gruden‘s resignation, the Raiders will, of course, have plenty of difficult decisions to make this offseason, including how to fill their head coaching position. As Ian Rapoport of writes, owner Mark Davis will assemble a small group of advisors to assist him with his HC search, which should yield a number of high-level candidates. Popular names from recent coaching cycles like Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Bills DC Leslie Frazier, and Iowa State HC Matt Campbell are just a few of the possibilities.

Davis will also discuss with his advisors whether GM Mike Mayock — who will now have a 51% say in roster decisions — should remain with the club. If Davis is able to lure a sought-after head coach, such a person may not want to partner with a holdover GM, but Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal believes Davis will legitimately consider retaining Mayock (Twitter link).

More out of Las Vegas:

  • We recently explored the topic of how much money remained under Gruden’s contract with the Raiders and if Gruden would be entitled to any of that amount. The assumption was that Gruden and Davis had worked out some sort of severance package, but according to Rapoport, a settlement has not yet been reached. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe confirms that the contract was heavily backloaded, and that Gruden has received less than 30% of the $100MM to which he would have otherwise been entitled.
  • Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Davis — who Rapoport says delivered an upbeat, positive message to his club on Wednesday — is nonetheless furious with the league office for what he believes is a hit job. Davis reportedly thinks that the league office was intent on forcing Gruden out, and that it was responsible for the leaked emails to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal that triggered his resignation.
  • Davis’ ire is enflamed by the fact that those emails stemmed from an investigation into a different team (the Washington Football Team) that went back over a decade, an investigation that has not resulted in any punishment for WFT executives or officials. The NFL has denied involved in the NYT and WSJ stories, but Davis is said to be mulling a lawsuit.
  • For what it’s worth, Volin believes the leaked emails were indeed a hit job, but not one ordered by the league office. On Thursday, the NYT and WSJ independently published stories detailing embarrassing emails that the league’s No. 2 exec, attorney Jeff Pash, sent to former WFT president Bruce Allen. While those emails were not as provocative as the ones Gruden sent to Allen, it is unlikely that the league would intentionally shame one of its own top officials. Instead, the leaks might have come from someone connected to the WFT investigation who was unsatisfied with the results.
  • The Raiders saw significant turnover on the O-line this offseason, and as a result of veteran departures, injuries, and poor performance, the unit has been a disappointment in 2021. Former center Rodney Hudson, who was traded to the Cardinals in March, actually requested his release after Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown were traded, as Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Ultimately, Vegas — which was apparently shocked by the request — was able to swing a deal with Arizona, but it would probably like to have its Pro Bowl pivot back in the Silver-and-Black.

Cardinals Place C Rodney Hudson On IR

More tough news for the Cardinals. They were set to be without Rodney Hudson this week, but the team placed its starting center on IR Saturday, sidelining him for at least three games.

Hudson is battling rib and shoulder injuries. The Pro Bowl blocker will miss Cardinals games against the Browns, Texans and Packers. Arizona’s quest to remain unbeaten in Cleveland keeps becoming more difficult. Hudson, Chandler Jones, defensive lineman Zach Allen, HC Kliff Kingsbury and QBs coach Cam Turner are out. The latter four are sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.

Acquired via trade from the Raiders this offseason, Hudson has been one of the NFL’s top centers for several seasons. He represented Arizona’s top O-line add this year and joined J.J. Watt and A.J. Green as Pro Bowlers brought in this offseason. Veteran backup Max Garcia is set to start in Hudson’s place.

The Cardinals will receive some reinforcements, with defensive lineman Jordan Phillips coming off IR. A higher-end 2020 free agency addition, Phillips returned to practice earlier this week. He will return to game action after nearly a year away. The former Dolphins and Bills interior D-lineman went on IR with a hamstring injury midway through last season and suffered a back injury during this year’s training camp.

In addition to Phillips, the Cards activated tackle Joshua Miles from IR and flexed tight end Ross Travis, linebacker Joe Walker and O-lineman Danny Isidora to their 53-man roster for Week 6.

West Rumors: Broncos, Cards, Hicks, Hawks

The Bears briefly entertained the prospect of trading standout defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, but they reconsidered and brought the former All-Pro back for his sixth season in Chicago. Shortly after free agency began, the Bears gave Hicks permission to find a trade partner. Nothing materialized, but the Chargers were monitoring this situation through the preseason, according to’s Jeremy Fowler (ESPN+ link). Hicks, 31, has a history with Bolts HC Brandon Staley, who was on the Bears’ defensive staff — as outside linebackers coach — under Vic Fangio from 2017-18. The 11th-year veteran’s contract expires at season’s end. Should the Bears falter against a tough October schedule, Hicks could be a name to watch as the Nov. 2 trade deadline approaches. The $7MM-plus left on his 2021 salary would be a difficult accommodation for most teams, but that number will drop closer to $5MM by the deadline. A groin injury sidelined Hicks in Week 5, but he remains on the Bears’ active roster.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Staying on the trade front, the Broncos received inquiries on their two contract-year corners — Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan — along with Ronald Darby. The veteran defenders came up in talks leading up to the season, but new Denver GM George Paton set a fairly high asking price. The Broncos sought a third- or fourth-round pick in a deal for one of their vets, Fowler adds, scuttling talks. The Saints made a strong push for Fuller, which came months after New Orleans’ aggressive pursuit of Denver’s No. 9 overall pick — which was used to take Patrick Surtain II. While Denver has made multiple deadline deals in recent years, involving receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it would likely take a tumble out of contention for the team to deal from its corner surplus.
  • The Cardinals are likely to be without Chandler Jones as they attempt to move their unbeaten run to 6-0. While vaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart, Kliff Kingsbury said Jones is experiencing symptoms and that it would be “a stretch” for him to play against the Browns, via’s Howard Balzer (on Twitter). Jones is vaccinated. News of the veteran pass rusher’s positive test circulated Tuesday, creating a narrow window for him to recover in time.
  • Arizona will also be without center Rodney Hudson. The acclaimed O-lineman is battling a rib injury, and Kingsbury declared him out Wednesday. Seventh-year pro Max Garcia will step in for the Cards’ Pro Bowl snapper.
  • Blake Bortles auditioned for the Seahawks on Tuesday, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes they are not expected to sign him (Twitter link). Seattle instead re-signed Danny Etling, who was with the team from August 2020 to August of ’21. Etling is currently on the Seahawks’ practice squad. Bortles has not been able to land a steady gig since the 2019 season, when he backed up Jared Goff with the Rams.
  • Pete Carroll said Tre Flowers did not request to be waived, Condotta adds (via Twitter). The Flowers transaction went through Wednesday, so a claim would surface by Thursday afternoon — if a team is to claim the fourth-year cornerback. The Seahawks have used former second-round pick Sidney Jones in Flowers’ place in the past two games.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/29/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans

  • Signed: WR Jordan Veasy

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: OT Chidi Okeke
  • Waived: OT Calvin Ashley

Tennessee Titans

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Bud Dupree; Dupree remains on Tennessee’s active/PUP list as well

Washington Football Team

Cardinals Extend Rodney Hudson

The Cardinals furnished Rodney Hudson with a new deal after he was shipped from the Raiders to the Cardinals, as Ian Rapoport of tweets. Originally believed to be a restructure, the center actually inked a brand new three-year, $30MMM contract. 

[RELATED: Larry Fitzgerald Expected To Retire?]

Originally, Hudson was set to count for $9.9MM in 2021. Now, he has two additional years worth $20.1MM with $16MM in total guarantees. For the Cardinals, that means a much more palatable $2.86MM cap charge for 2021. Meanwhile, the trade left the Raiders with a $7MM+ dead money charge.

Hudson, a three-time Pro Bowler, joins D.J. Humphries and Justin Pugh on the Cardinals offensive line. Last year, he graded out as the eighth-best center in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. Hudson came with a contract to match his resume, but the cost of a third-round pick was well worth it for the Cardinals. He’s now set to take over for Mason Cole, who finished just 31st on PFF’s list.

Cardinals C Rodney Hudson Restructures Contract

The Cardinals have done some work today to open extra cap space. Veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer writes that center Rodney Hudson has restructured his contract.

[RELATED: Cardinals LB Jordan Hicks Takes Pay Cut]

Arizona traded for Hudson and his hefty $9.9MM cap charge earlier this month, and it always seemed inevitable that the veteran would work with the organization to reduce that number. Balzer notes that $8.8MM of the lineman’s compensation was converted into a signing bonus, thus reducing Hudson’s salary to $1.1MM. The team also added three voidable years to the contract, meaning the new signing bonus can be prorated over five years. As a result, Hudson’s 2021 cap charge was reduced to $2.86MM.

Hudson also had his 2022 workout bonus converted into base salary, increasing that latter number to $10.85MM. As a result, the lineman’s new cap charge is $12.61MM.

Earlier this month, the Cardinals sent a third-round pick to the Raiders for Hudson and a seventh-rounder. He will now join the likes of D.J. Humphries and Justin Pugh on a talented offensive line in Arizona. Pro Football Focus graded Hudson as its No. 8 overall center last season, and the veteran has three Pro Bowl appearances on his resume.