“Yeah, no update,” Kingsbury said last week. “We’re working through something with him. As soon as we know, we’ll have that update.”
Hudson signed a three-year, $30 million extension in 2021 with $5 million guaranteed of his $10.9 million base salary in 2022. However, USA Today’s Chuck Harris, who covers the Cardinals, reports that the 32-year-old center is mulling retirement.
Harris tweeted “From what I am hearing, Rodney Hudson’s absence is because he’s contemplating retirement . . . The Cardinals have been aware since before the draft.”
The reason why he’s considering retirement is not known. In Hudson’s first season with the Cardinals, he missed five games as he dealt with a ribs injury and a COVID stint.
Last week, right tackle Kelvin Beachum spoke to 98.7 FM Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke about Hudson’s situation and said that he had a son recently.
“As far as I know he’s doing well,” Beachum said. “He just had a son not too long ago. (He) has a young daughter so I know he’s putting family first as any father would and I know the rest will be handled between him and the organization. Know that he’s in good spirits and excited to see what comes from it over the next couple of weeks.”
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How Much Relief Could Cardinals Receive If Hudson Retires?
According to Harris, the Cardinals would receive $9.85 million in 2022 if Hudson were to retire.
Left guard Justin Pugh would be next in line to start at center. Both Pugh and sixth-round rookie Lecitus Smith took reps at center in Hudson’s absence at mandatory minicamps. Offensive lineman Sean Harlow also had time playing center during Hudson’s absence in 2021.
The Cardinals could look to add a center via free agency. Arizona hosted free-agent center Billy Price for a visit in early May and could be urged to sign the former first-round pick.
Cardinals Need Hudson Back
Arizona did not envision this situation would take place when they traded a third-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders for Hudson in 2021.
Before last season, Hudson missed just one game since 2016. The three-time Pro Bowler would be difficult to replace. According to Pro Football Focus, Hudson ranked first among centers with a 93.6 pass-blocking grade dating back to 2015. Hudson had a great start to the 2021 season. In the first four games, Hudson was the only offensive lineman that started every game and didn’t allow a single pressure, via olinestats.com.
But the ribs injury and COVID stint played a part in Hudson having a 60.9 PFF grade, the worst of his 11-year career. Not only would Hudson retiring hurt the Cardinals, but potentially having Pugh switch positions and having a hole at left guard is also worrisome.
The Cardinals could always scour the free agency market. Root laid out possible options at the starting center position. He pitched the idea for the Cardinals to sign free agent JC Tretter.
Root said, “Tretter was released by the Browns this offseason after being their starting center for five seasons. He missed only one game in five seasons.”