ARIZONA CARDINALS

Arizona Cardinals trade for Raiders C Rodney Hudson

Mar 17, 2021, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:11 pm

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)...

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to acquire veteran center Rodney Hudson from the Las Vegas Raiders with a swap of draft picks.

The swap, which is official pending a physical, is for Arizona’s 2021 third-round pick going Las Vegas’ way. The Cardinals will receive a 2021 Raiders seventh-round selection.

Las Vegas reportedly was prepared to release Hudson before it worked out the trade just before the 1 p.m. MST deadline for the new NFL league year.

Hudson, 31, is a three-time Pro Bowler (2016-17, 2019) who was Second Team All-Pro in 2019.

The Cardinals will take on a contract for Hudson that has two years left, including 2021.

Hudson will slot into a starting role ahead of returning centers Mason Cole and Lamont Gaillard.

He posted a 73.6 grade on Pro Football Focus last season, well above the website’s rating for Cole (54.4) and Gaillard (48.1).

It’s not a surprising move for the Cardinals after run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler suggested in February that the status quo wasn’t good enough.

He effectively opened up the starting center role for the taking after Cole and Gaillard had their ups and downs in 2020.

“Both those guys at times played extremely well … both those guys, they struggled, both being young players,” Kugler said. “The center position overall I think needs to take the next step, to get better.”

Cole went down in Week 1 with an injury and was spelled relatively well by Gaillard for two weeks. Gaillard did enough throughout the year to earn more significant snaps in the final month of 2020.

By the end of the season, Cole, Arizona’s 2018 third-round pick, had played 914 snaps to Gaillard’s 219. Gaillard was drafted in the sixth round by Arizona in 2019.

The duo combined for seven penalties, though they were far from the only penalty-stricken players along the offensive line.

Perhaps the Cardinals viewed the loss of veteran center A.Q. Shipley’s voice in the room after the 2019 season as a reason for the uptick in mistakes along the line.

In any case, it’s clear Arizona is prioritizing the growth of third-year quarterback Kyler Murray.

Arizona in the past month has prioritized improving in the trenches. General manager Steve Keim kicked off the offseason by signing defensive lineman J.J. Watt and retaining edge rushers Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck.

While the Cardinals missed out or took themselves out of the running to land the top center on the market — former Packers center Corey Linsley signed a record deal with the Los Angeles Chargers — they have now bolstered their line.

The Cardinals could have more decisions to make to the right of center even after starting right tackle Kelvin Beachum re-signed.

Right guard J.R. Sweezy, who lost his starting role to Justin Murray last year, is also a free agent.

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