Rodney Hudson

Cardinals Place C Rodney Hudson On IR, Sign K Tristan Vizcaino

The Cardinals have placed center Rodney Hudson on injured reserve, per a team announcement. Hudson has dealt with knee trouble since training camp, and while he played in the first four games of the season, he has been sidelined ever since.

It is fair to wonder whether this is the end of the line for Hudson, who reportedly contemplated retirement this offseason. In 2021, his first season with the Cardinals, he was one of Pro Football Focus’ worst-rated centers after years of high-level performance. Since he became a full-time starter in 2013, his third professional season, he had not registered a PFF grade below 71.0, but that number fell to 60.9 last season.

2021 also saw the typically-durable blocker miss five games due to rib and shoulder injuries, and combined with this year’s knee ailment, his health is clearly an increasing concern. He is under contract through 2023, though the Cardinals’ interior O-line has been hit hard by injury this year, and the club could seek to remake that unit this offseason.

Arizona first turned to Sean Harlow to replace Hudson, and then to former Bengals first-rounder Billy Price. Price never lived up to his draft status in Cincinnati, which is why he was available for the Cards to pluck him off the Raiders’ taxi squad in early October. While it appears he will continue operating at the pivot in the near-term, his performance has not improved. His dismal 38.6 overall grade, underscored by four penalties and four sacks allowed, is the second-worst mark in the league among players with enough snaps to qualify.

In other Cardinals news, the team signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the active roster. Matt Prater, who has battled a hip injury this year, will miss Arizona’s Week 10 contest against the Rams. Vizcaino has made nine of his 10 career field goal tries, though he is just 12-for-17 on PATs.

Cardinals S Budda Baker, G Will Hernandez To Miss Time

As they attempt to pick up the pieces from a disappointing first half, the Cardinals must begin doing so without one of their best players. Budda Baker will be forced out of the lineup due to a high ankle sprain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Cardinals are hoping the All-Pro safety can come back in two or three weeks. Arizona’s Week 13 bye could be a factor here. The Cardinals play the Rams, 49ers and Chargers ahead of that week.

Arizona will also be without starting guard Will Hernandez for the time being. While Hernandez does not have a definitive timetable, Kliff Kingsbury did not sound too optimistic about the offseason addition returning soon. Kingsbury said (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, on Twitter) he is hopeful this is not a season-ending pectoral injury. This will stall a solid bounce-back season from the former Giants starter.

This will be relatively new territory for Baker. The sixth-year defender has missed three games throughout his career. He has been one of the best draft picks of Steve Keim‘s GM tenure, making four Pro Bowls and becoming a two-time first-team All-Pro.

The Cardinals have both Baker and Jalen Thompson signed long term, with the former tied to a four-year, $59MM extension. This certainly stands to limit Arizona’s pass defense — one a subaverage cornerback situation already impacts. Dropping their sixth game of the season, the Cardinals exited Week 9 as the league’s 26th-ranked defense.

Signed to a low-cost deal this offseason, Hernandez became an instant starter opposite Justin Pugh. Despite a limited market, the four-year Giants starter has provided some stability up front for Arizona, which has seen injuries decimate its interior offensive front. Pugh is out for the season, while Max Garcia has missed the past two Arizona games. The eighth-year veteran could return in Week 10, per Kingsbury, and will be an option to replace Hernandez. Kingsbury said center Rodney Hudson is not expected to make his return in Week 10. Hudson, who contemplated retirement this offseason, has not played since Week 4. Billy Price is likely to start at center again against the Rams.

Cardinals Waive WR Andy Isabella, Sign C Billy Price Off Raiders’ Practice Squad

Months after shopping Andy Isabella in trades, the Cardinals are cutting bait. The team waived the former second-round pick Tuesday, doing so to make room on the roster for Billy Price.

The Cardinals are signing Price off the Raiders’ practice squad. The team hosted the veteran center as a free agent in May, when it was not known if Rodney Hudson would be back, but Price found his way to Las Vegas. He will move to the NFL’s other desert team this week.

Isabella never came too close to justifying the Cards’ draft investment. The former No. 62 overall pick has played in three Arizona games this season, catching two passes for 21 yards. Despite DeAndre Hopkins‘ suspension and the injuries to Rondale Moore and A.J. Green, the Cards did not turn to Isabella as a steady contributor. He will be available on the waiver wire.

A standout at Division I-FCS UMass, Isabella arrived in Arizona months after Kliff Kingsbury did. The 5-foot-9 slot receiver topped out at 224 yards and two touchdowns — on 21 receptions — in 2020. Isabella, who caught nine passes in 15 games as a rookie, was one of three receivers the Cards chose in that 2019 draft. The other two, fourth-rounder Hakeem Butler and sixth-rounder KeeSean Johnson, are out of the league. This came during a rich receiver draft, which saw D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson chosen after Isabella went off the board on Day 2. The Cards shopped Isabella before free agency and then during the draft but found no takers.

Arizona drafted the 5-7 Moore in the 2021 second round and used their 2022 first-round pick in the Marquise Brown trade. Greg Dortch, who also goes 5-7, became Moore’s primary replacement to start this season. It will be interesting if another team takes a flier on Isabella, whose rookie deal expires at season’s end.

The Bengals drafted Price in the 2018 first round but benched him in his second season. Cincinnati traded Price to the Giants for defensive tackle B.J. Hill last year. Price did not see any action for the Raiders. Hudson is battling a knee injury, though he has not missed any time yet, while Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com adds guard Justin Pugh is also dealing with an injury situation.

The Cards traded for guard Cody Ford before the season, but a subsequent injury led the ex-Bill to IR. Kingsbury said (via Urban) Ford will not return to practice when first eligible this week; the former second-round pick is at least a couple weeks away from his practice window opening. Price will soon move into position as an interior backup in Arizona, his fourth NFL team.

Rodney Hudson To Return To Cards In 2022

Following Rodney Hudson‘s minicamp absence, speculation ensued about the Cardinals’ future at center. But the former Pro Bowler is planning to return for a second season with the team.

Hudson plans to play in 2022, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who adds the veteran snapper is expected to report for Cardinals training camp next week (Twitter link). The Cardinals have essentially confirmed this (on Twitter). Given Hudson’s talent level, this should be a big boost for the Cardinals.

The team acquired Hudson from Las Vegas last year and extended him on a three-year deal worth $30MM. While Hudson — a three-time Pro Bowler with the Raiders — is one of seven centers attached to eight-figure-per-year contracts, he is the league’s seventh-highest-paid snapper. Money may or may not have led to the uncertainty surrounding Hudson’s 2022 status, but the Cardinals will have their most decorated offensive lineman back at work soon.

Hudson’s deal runs through 2023 and features a $10MM cap spike from 2021, when the 33-year-old blocker was on the Cards’ payroll at $2.86MM, to this year ($12.61MM cap figure). The Cardinals guaranteed Hudson $10.9MM at signing, though $16MM of this contract is guaranteed for injury. The former Chiefs third-round pick missed five games last season, joining Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins as vital Cards offensive cogs to miss extended stretches, but was back in uniform for the team’s final three games.

The Cards had Justin Pugh taking center reps during their offseason program, potentially as a contingency plan. Pugh has spent extensive time at both guard and tackle in the NFL, but center marked new territory for the ex-first-rounder. Hudson returning will keep Pugh at guard, bolstering Arizona’s front overall. The team also returns veteran tackles D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum.

Receiving Pro Bowl nods in 2016, ’17 and ’19, Hudson is now on his fourth NFL contract. The Raiders signed him away from the Chiefs in 2015 and extended him in 2019. Amid an O-line overhaul last year, the Raiders were set to make Hudson a cap casualty. But the Cardinals swooped in with a trade offer, agreeing to send a 2021 third-round pick for Hudson and a seventh-rounder. They extended him soon after.

Pro Football Focus rated Hudson near the bottom of its center performance list last season, slotting him 31st. But the 12th-year veteran still represents a key player for a Cardinals team that is working on a Murray extension. Another offseason crisis appears to be averted.

Latest On Cardinals Offensive Line

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 NFL.com 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.