Rodney Hudson

Raiders Discussing Rodney Hudson Extension

Raiders GM Mike Mayock has been discussing a new contract with the agent for center Rodney Hudson, according to head coach Jon Gruden (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Review Journal). Currently, Hudson is slated to reach free agency after the end of the 2019 season. 

We consider him a big piece of this franchise,” Gruden said. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep him here a long time.”

Hudson is set to earn a base salary of $8.25MM this year with a $10.017MM cap number. With a slight pay bump in his next deal, Hudson could easily wind up as one of the ten highest-paid players at his position. Currently, Mitch Morse, Maurkice Pouncey, Ryan Jensen, Brandon Linder, Weston Richburg, Travis Frederick, Matt Paradis, Alex Mack, and Justin Britt rank ahead of Rodney in terms of average annual value.

Last year, Hudson graded out as the fourth-best center in the NFL, trailing only Jason Kelce, Paradis, and Mack. The soon-to-be 30-year-old also earned Pro Bowl nods in 2016 and 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Bradford, Raiders, Chiefs

The Cardinals gave Sam Bradford a hefty deal to be their starting quarterback in 2018, but that’s no longer a certainty after their selection of UCLA’s Josh Rosen in the first round.

We got Sam to be our starting quarterback and I would still say that is the case,” coach Steve Wilks said when asked if Bradford will be the starter (via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). “I’m very excited about Josh … what he can bring. Every position is open for competition.

The selection of Rosen marked the first time in 12 years the Cardinals drafted a quarterback in the first three rounds. They also gave up third- and fifth-round picks in order to advance to the No. 10 pick for him.

Clearly, the Cardinals believe that the future is very bright for Rosen, but he is also regarded by some as the most NFL-ready of any QB from this draft class. For Rosen and Arizona, the future could be the present.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • The Raiders converted $7.085MM center Rodney Hudson’s 2018 base salary into a bonus, creating $5.668MM in cap space, a league source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The move had to be made in order to make room for the Raiders’ draft class as well as the acquisition of wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
  • Due to the Raiders already paying Seth Roberts his $2MM roster bonus, the slot target’s $2.25MM 2018 salary is fully guaranteed. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets there are also incentives in Roberts’ deal — $150K for 45 receptions and another $150K if he eclipses his career-high mark (43 grabs last season) by a bigger margin and reaches 65 — and adds that Roberts may not be easy to move despite this draft featuring a less-than-stellar wideout contingent. But Oakland is trying to do so. Roberts has been Oakland’s primary slot man since the 2015 season, but his work has been consistently maligned by Pro Football Focus.
  • The Chiefs did not have a first-round pick on Thursday, but they did try to trade into the back end of the first round, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes. “I was (tempted),” GM Brett Veach said. “We make calls. But if you were to ask me, what were the odds of getting into round one, I would have said they were very low. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to try. We certainly had dialogue from (picks) 27 to 32. But it had to make sense for us, both now and in the future. It never got close.” The Chiefs traded their first-rounder to the Bills for the right to select Patrick Mahomes last year.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

AFC Notes: Browns, Jackson, Broncos WR’s

The Browns are in serious danger of joining the 2008 Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a single season. Cleveland will take on the Bears and Steelers before the dust is settled, but will be moving forward with a new head football man in John Dorsey.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com answers a variety of questions in a video addressing many different questions swirling around the franchise. One question she touches on is how quickly of an impact Dorsey will have on the field? While Cabot did say that it will take some time to turn around the franchise, one thing Dorsey will emphasize is finding that franchise quarterback that the team has been craving for a long time. Cabot states that just like with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo, if the Browns can find their guy this offseason, there could be a dramatic shift in the long-term outlook of the organization.

The Browns will likely hold the first overall pick so they could be faced with a choice regarding Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen should both draft eligible QB’s turn pro this offseason.

Here are more stories coming from the AFC:

  • While the Browns do have a new decision maker in Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson remains a bit in-flux. While the team’s owner has expressed his desire to keep the veteran coach, there could be an added twist in this story because of the division rival Bengals, states Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Pluto opines that should Jackson replace the embattled Marvin Lewis, that would allow Dorsey to put his own coach in place, leaving his relationship with owner Jimmy Haslam in-tact. Bengals owner Mike Brown seems to like guys he’s worked with in the past, so Jackson seems like a reasonable possibility, even given his 1-29 record in Cleveland.
  • The Broncos are very much playing out the string of this season with a number of different QB’s given injuries and poor play. However, the wide receiver position has taken a hit over the past week, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com. Klis notes that Denver could only have four wideouts active against the Redskins in Week 16. Demaryius Thomas, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor and Isaiah McKenzie are the only healthy receivers available and could lead the team to serious depth problems should one of them go down this weekend. Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer are both listed as questionable and really have no reason to be pushed given that the Broncos are not in the playoff race. Expect the team to rely on the running game in order to keep their receiving corps healthy on Sunday.
  • Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper has not been 100% since he suffered a concussion and an ankle injury vs. the Broncos a few weeks ago. The third-year wideout has been inconsistent while on the field this season, but said after practice on Friday that he “felt all right” and is “still working through” the injuries, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link). He remains questionable to play for Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Gehlken also passed along that four Raiders missed practice today, including: CB David Amerson (foot), C Rodney Hudson (ankle/illness), DL Treyvon Hester (ankle) and TE Clive Walford (concussion/neck) (Twitter link).

Notable 2018 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle, $1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): Still playing like one of the league’s best coverage safeties at the age of 32, Weddle needs the Ravens to land one of the AFC Wild Card slots in order to earn his incentive. Baltimore appears to on course to do just that, as FiveThirtyEight gives the club an 87% of earning a postseason berth. That playoff appearance will be largely due to the Ravens’ defense, which ranks second only to Jacksonville in DVOA.
  • Bills S Micah Hyde, $400K (link): Sean McDermott can coach defensive backs. After spending years finding gems at safety for the Eagles and Panthers, the Bills head coach has helped Hyde transform into a top-notch DB. Hyde, who inked a five-year, $30.5MM contract with Buffalo in the spring, ranked a respectable 53rd in Pro Football Focus‘ safety grades a year ago. This season? He’s ninth.
  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Rams K Greg Zuerlein, $250K (link): While the Los Angeles offense garners the most headlines, the club’s special teams unit has maintained its dominance under coordinator John Fassel, who briefly took over as the Rams’ interim head coach in 2016. Fassel, Zuerlein, & Co. have managed a No. 2 ranking in special teams DVOA, while Zuerlein himself has been worth 15.1 points of field position (second in the NFL).
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn’s summer holdout lead to extra guarantees in the future, but didn’t end with a change to his 2017 salary, meaning this bonus part of his original deal. The 34-year-old Penn is currently on injured reserve, and will miss his first game since 2007 on Sunday. Still, his renegotiated contract now contains a $3MM guarantee for 2018, meaning he’s likely part of the Raiders’ plans.
  • Patriots ST Matthew Slater, $150K (link): Slater has now earned a Pro Bowl berth in every season since 2011. At some point, it’s fair to wonder if Slater is skating by on reputation, as he played only a quarter of the Patriots’ special teams snaps this year. Slater missed more special teams tackles than he made prior to his 2016 berth, tweets Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): For all of Oakland’s problems this season, the Raiders have continued to boast some of the NFL’s best pass-blocking offensive lineman. Hudson is the best pass-blocking center in the league by a wide margin, meaning he’s eminently affordable at $8.9MM annually.

Escalators

  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2018 (link): As Corry reports, Slay had three ways to earn this heft escalator — post five or more interceptions (he sits at seven), play on 80% or more of Detroit’s defensive snaps (he’s at 97.6%), or earn a Pro Bowl berth. Slay managed all three in what has become the best season of an increasingly impressive five-year career.
  • Eagles T Lane Johnson, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-21 (link): Depending on Jason Peters‘ health and the Eagles’ plans, Johnson could very well be playing left tackle as soon as 2018. Even with his base salary set to increase, Johnson won’t have a cap charge north of $13.5MM over the life of his contract.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-20 (link): General manager Howie Roseman zeroed in on Brooks at the outset of the 2016 free agent period, and the 28-year-old has quickly proved to be one of the best free agent signings in recent memory. Brooks will earn an $8.5MM base salary — the largest during his five-year deal — in 2018.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $250K base salary increase from 2019-21 (link): Per Corry, Ertz also picked up a $100K bonus for 2017. Ertz has already set a career-high in touchdowns (eight) and has a shot to set new marks in receptions and yards even though he missed two games with injury. A former second-round pick, Ertz ranks among the top-five tight ends in catches, yards, and scores.

Notable 2017 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2017 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter links), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) can earn bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Incentives

  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Colts P Pat McAfee, $250K (link): McAfee, who signed a five-year extension with the Colts in 2014, ranks third in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards. The Indy special teams unit ranks fourth in the league in DVOA, while McAfee himself has been worth four points of field position on punts, third-best in the AFC.
  • Raiders S Reggie Nelson, $250K (link): Nelson sat on the free agent market until April, but has rewarded the Raiders for signing him by earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl season. The 33-year-old Nelson, who’s posted four interceptions after leading the NFL with eight picks in 2015, is in the middle of a two-year, $8.5MM deal.
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn is the definition of stability, as the veteran left tackle hasn’t missed a game since becoming a starter during his rookie season in 2007. Penn signed a two-year, $11.9MM contract with the Raiders this spring, and is set to count $6.1MM against Oakland’s cap in 2017.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): The third member of the Raiders’ offensive line to earn a Pro Bowl bonus, Hudson is the fourth-highest paid center in the league, earning $8.9MM annually. The No. 4 center in the NFL this year according to Pro Football Focus, Hudson is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Titans RB DeMarco Murray, $100K (link): After a putrid season in Philadelphia during which he barely topped 700 yards rushing, Murray has rebounded since being traded to the Titans, and is currently second in the league with 1.224 yards on the ground. He’s scored nine rushing touchdowns, and has added three more scores thorugh the air.

Escalators

  • Browns T Joe Thomas, $1.5MM 2017 roster bonus escalator (link): Thomas is due a roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, and that bonus’ value has now increased from $1MM to $2.5MM. That bonus could factor in (in a minimal way) to any trade talks the Browns might have with other clubs, but Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson has been adamant that the Browns won’t deal Thomas.
  • Titans LB Brian Orakpo, $200K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Orakpo’s 2017 base salary will increase to $5.95MM after he was selected to the Pro Bowl and played in more than 65% of the Titans’ defensive snaps. Orakpo, who has posted 11 sacks during his second season with Tennessee, is signed through 2018.
  • Titans DT Jurrell Casey, $100K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Casey, 27, is arguably one of the more underpaid defenders in the league, as he’s due only $36MM from 2014-2018. His 2017 base salary will now increase to $5.9MM in 2017, and he’s also due a $200K roster bonus next spring.

Newton, Peterson, Others Get Salary Guarantees

Several NFL players have contracts containing language which states that they’ll get a full or partial salary guarantees for 2016 and/or 2017 if they remained on their respective teams on Friday, the third day of the league year. Let’s check in some of those players (link courtesy of CBS Sports’ Joel Corry):

  • Cam Newton, quarterback (Panthers): $13MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed. Friday is also the deadline Cam Newton (Vertical)for the Panthers to pick up Newton’s 2020 option for $10MM.
  • Eli Manning, quarterback (Giants): $17.5MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Jay Cutler, quarterback (Bears): $16MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Adrian Peterson, running back (Vikings): $7MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Julio Jones, wide receiver (Falcons): $11.5MM base salary for 2017 is now fully guaranteed.
  • A.J. Green, wide receiver (Bengals): $6MM roster bonus is payable.
  • Brandon Marshall, wide receiver (Jets): $9.5MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Mike Iupati, guard (Cardinals): $6.75MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed, as is $2MM of Iupati’s $8MM base salary for 2017.
  • Rodney Hudson, center (Raiders): $7.35MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle (Buccaneers): $13.25MM base salary for 2017 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle (Bills): $9.75MM base salary for 2017 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Justin Houston, linebacker (Chiefs): $14.75MM of Houston’s $14.9MM base salary in 2016 is now fully guaranteed, as is $6.75MM of his $16.35MM base salary for 2017.
  • DeAndre Levy, linebacker (Lions): $5.25MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.
  • Aqib Talib, cornerback (Broncos): $8.5MM base salary for 2016 is now fully guaranteed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

McKenzie, Woodson On Raiders’ Offseason

The Raiders, armed with a boatload of cap space, had hoped to make a big splash in free agency. They wanted Ndamukong Suh, they wanted DeMarco Murray, and they wanted Randall Cobb, among others. But while the Raiders were unable to land the biggest of the big names, they have acquired a number of quality players that should give the team a lift in 2015. Rodney Hudson is one of the league’s best centers, and Dan Williams and Curtis Lofton will give the front seven a much-needed boost. Roy Helu, meanwhile, has a ton of upside and could be one of the offseason’s biggest steals.

At the Raiders’ Commitment to Excellence dinner honoring free safety Charles Woodson last night, GM Reggie McKenzie and Woodson himself spoke about what the team has accomplished so far. Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group passes along a few interesting notes on what those two had to say (all links go to Twitter, unless otherwise noted):

  • McKenzie said that the plan this offseason was to acquire younger players who are still in their prime years. Last year, of course, the Raiders targeted older players who could provide leadership and help to change the team’s culture.
  • The older players that were acquired last season largely served their purpose, and some, like Donald Penn, Justin Tuck, and Woodson were retained, as they are still capable contributors. Otherwise, Oakland sought young “starter-types.”
  • Confirming what we had already learned, McKenzie said the team did make a strong push Suh but will not pursue Greg Hardy.
  • McKenzie spoke specifically about Hudson and new safety Nate Allen. He said that the Raiders jumped at the chance to sign Hudson, who is a skilled pass-blocker and run-blocker, and he cited Allen’s range, versatility, and instincts as the major factors in his signing.
  • Both McKenzie and Woodson spoke of the positive energy that the new acquisitions bring with them, and Woodson discussed how a staff assembled of former players contribute to that energy.
  • Woodson added that he helped to recruit a few of the team’s new additions, though most of them had already agreed to terms.
  • In a full-length piece, McDonald provides a quote from Woodson that accurately summarizes the team’s offseason: “There’s no question that Suh would have been huge. He would have been a great addition to the team,” Woodson said. “At the same time, if you don’t get a Suh, you can get three or four other players to make up for it. And what that does is build depth.”
  • For his part, McDonald tweets that this free agent class could end up being a great one, just like last year’s draft class. Given the quality of the signings and the impact they should have on the team’s overall depth, it appears McDonald’s optimism is well-founded.

Raiders Sign Rodney Hudson

WEDNESDAY, 4:09pm: The Raiders have officially signed Hudson, the team announced today (via Twitter). The five-year, $44.5MM pact includes a $6.9MM roster bonus for 2015 and a little less than $13MM in fully guaranteed money, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) and Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter links).

MONDAY, 7:50am: After missing out on a handful of top targets this weekend, including Ndamukong Suh, Randall Cobb, and Jerry Hughes, the Raiders are on the board. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the team has agreed to terms with Rodney Hudson. The Chiefs center is expected to sign a five-year, $44.5MM contract with Oakland once the free agent period begins on Tuesday.Rodney Hudson

We’ll have to wait for the specifics on Hudson’s contract to know for sure, but if the base value is indeed $44.5MM, that would put the average annual value at $8.9MM, making the 25-year-old the highest-paid center in the league.

Hudson, a former second-round pick, has been the Chiefs’ full-time starter at center for the last two seasons. In 2014, Hudson ranked as the third-best center in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), grading as an above-average run blocker and pass blocker — he even led all centers in PFF’s screen-blocking grade.

As recently as Saturday, we heard that the Chiefs were making a push to re-sign Hudson, but after the four-year veteran turned down a $6MM-per-year offer from Kansas City during the season, his asking price was believed to be up to $8MM+ at that point. That likely made it tricky for the Chiefs to work something out, since the team is already right up against the cap even before it finalizes its agreement with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

In Oakland, Hudson is expected to take over the starting center job vacated by Stefen Wisniewski, who will officially become a free agent and sign elsewhere tomorrow. As for the Chiefs, Eric Kush looks like the logical in-house option to replace Hudson in the middle of the offensive line, though it’s possible that the team will address the position in free agency or the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC FA Rumors: Raiders, Jags, Colts, Jets

The Raiders may have missed out on two big-name free agent targets — Ndamukong Suh and Randall Cobb — but they may have other players in mind. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link), Oakland will continue to make a “strong push” for center Rodney Hudson, though the Chiefs haven’t given up on retaining him. Elsewhere, the Raiders have expressed interest in free agent tight end Jermaine Gresham, tweets Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, who adds that the Browns also have interest.

Let’s dive in to the latest AFC rumors…

  • The Jaguars have an “opportunity” with running back DeMarco Murray, per Robinson (Twitter link). It’s not entirely clear if that means Jacksonville has been talking with the free agent RB, but Robinson says the Jags could outbid the Cowboys.
  • More on the Jaguars: Despite their ample cap space, they were “never in” on Ndamukong Suh, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (via Twitter).
  • While it’s not a priority, the Colts are expected to talk to edge rusher Brian Orakpo in the coming days, tweets Robinson. Orakpo has also drawn interest from the Falcons. Jaguars, Cardinals, as well as his current team, Washington.
  • The Jets have interest in free agent safety Ron Parker, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). We learned earlier today that Parker and the Bucs have mutual interest.
  • Given the nature of recent CB contracts, Buster Skrine is one cornerback who could be in for a big payday, according to Garfolo (on Twitter).
  • With Jordan Cameron unlikely to return, the Browns are expected to show interest in tight end Ed Dickson, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Chiefs Pushing To Re-Sign Rodney Hudson

A year ago, the Chiefs let starting offensive linemen Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah, and Geoff Schwartz walk in free agency. This time around, the team is hoping to bring back its key free agent center. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Chiefs are making a “strong push” to re-sign Rodney Hudson before he reaches the open market.

Hudson, 25, is one of the top interior offensive linemen on the market, ranking behind only perhaps Mike Iupati. When I identified my top 50 free agents earlier today, I placed Hudson 17th, and La Canfora notes that many teams are interested in landing him.

In my discussion of Hudson, I suggested that anything less than $6MM per year on his new deal would be a surprise, and it sounds as if bidding is going higher than that. Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, citing a source, reports that offers from rival suitors are coming in at around $8MM per year, and could go even higher. An annual salary in that neighborhood would make Hudson one of the highest-paid centers in the league — per Over the Cap, Maurkice Pouncey, Alex Mack, and Ryan Kalil are currently the only players at the position earning more than $8MM per season.

Whether or not the Chiefs can afford such a deal remains to be seen. The team still has cap-clearing moves to make, perhaps involving Dwayne Bowe and/or Tamba Hali, but for now the team is still about $2MM+ over the cap for 2015.