Cardinals Urged to Contact Chiefs Amid Rodney Hudson ‘Problem’

Nick Allegretti

Getty An unheralded Chiefs offensive lineman could help the Cardinals replace Rodney Hudson.

Rodney Hudson was absent from the start of mandatory minicamp for the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday, June 14. The team’s starting center was not excused from activities, and there has been speculation Hudson may be contemplating retirement.

Not having Hudson available this season would weaken one of the few sure positions along the Cards’ offensive line. General manager Steve Keim might be able to put a contingency in place by contacting one of Hudson’s former teams, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cardinals have been urged to trade for a versatile young lineman on the Chiefs’ roster, who has experience at both guard and center.

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Chiefs Swing Backup A Possible Replacement

Nick Allegretti is a lineman Keim should inquire about if Hudson stays away for the long haul, according to Cardinals beat reporter Johnny Venerable:

Drafted in the seventh round back in 2019, Allegretti has started nine games in three seasons for the Chiefs. Those nine starts came during the 2020 season and included Allegretti playing all 75 snaps when the Chiefs lost 31-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.

Hudson’s absence from the start of mandatory sessions was reported by Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. He also reported head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s revelation “there’s a problem that the team is trying to resolve with the veteran starter.”

Hudson’s absence is his second of the offseason, with Chuck Harris of Cards Wire noting how the veteran also skipped voluntary OTAs. Missing all three days of the mandatory stuff could carry a “max fine of $95,877,” per Harris.

Offering an explanation, Hudson’s teammate Kelvin Beachum told Wolf & Luke on 98.7 Arizona Sports, Hudson is “putting family first.” Beachum also said “the rest will be handled between him (Hudson) and the organization.”

Both Venerable and Andy Kwong of SB Nation’s Revenge of the Birds mentioned “retirement” as a possible outcome from any standoff involving Hudson and the Cardinals.

It would make sense for Hudson to consider calling it quits. He’s 32 and has played 11 seasons in the pros.

The Cardinals may have anticipated a problem with Hudson, based on their interest in Tyler Linderbaum and Cam Jurgens during the 2022 NFL draft, according to Cards Wire site editor Jess Root:

Losing Hudson would be an obvious blow for the Cardinals since he’s one of the more reliable centers in the game. The three-time Pro-Bowler would be difficult to replace, but Allegretti is still just 26 and can play either guard spot or over the ball.

Allegretti is a free agent next season, so he could likely be acquired for a minimal cost, say a 2023 late-round pick, in trade this year, assuming he doesn’t get released during the remainder of the offseason.

Alternatively, the Cardinals may have a more proven replacement for Hudson already on the roster.

Veteran Guard Ready to Switch Positions

Justin Pugh is ready to play center, per Darren Urban of “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.”

Urban also noted sixth-round pick Lecitus Smith has been “working some at center” during minicamp. Sean Harlow is also in the mix, but Pugh is a more intriguing option than both.

Normally the team’s starting left guard, Pugh has played nine seasons. The 31-year-old is experienced and skilled, but there is one thing to consider about the player who admitted he “nearly retired” following last season.

It concerns Pugh’s drop in weight, reported by PHNX Cardinals podcast host Bo Brack:

Hudson tips the scales at 315 pounds and gives the Cardinals good size at the heart of the offensive interior. A bit of beef is needed in the NFC West, where defensive tackles as dominant as Los Angeles Rams’ All-Pro Aaron Donald and Arik Armstead of the San Francisco 49ers routinely wreck blocking schemes.

The Cardinals also have a short starting quarterback in the form of 5’10” Kyler Murray. Holding the middle is crucial for helping Murray establish proper vision downfield, making center an essential position.

If Hudson doesn’t come back, the Cards may need to get creative to find the best way to replace one of their more important starters.

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