When asked about starting center Mason Cole and backup Lamont Gaillard last month, offensive line coach Sean Kugler acknowledged the Cardinals would consider bringing in a player from the outside for the position.
For a while, it looked like that could be free-agent Corey Linsley, the Packers' All-Pro who instead came to a deal with the Chargers. But then Pro Bowl Raiders center Rodney Hudson came on the market in trade, and the Cardinals made sure it happened.
Hudson, who will be 32 this season, was reportedly going to be released by the Raiders. But when the Raiders saw significant interest publicly, they instead held on to him to work a deal. The Cards were ready.
The Cardinals dealt a third-round pick for the three-time Pro Bowler, and the Cards also get the Raiders' seventh-round pick in return. The trade won't be finalized until Hudson passes a physical.
"The center position last year had its ups and downs," Kugler said in February. "Both (Cole and Gaillard) at times played extremely well. Both those guys at times struggled, both being young players. They're both hard workers, they both like the game of football, and I think they are both going to improve.
"If we add somebody, they're going to be right in the mix. It's going to be open competition. The best guy is going to win that job."
But with the trade, it'll be Hudson's job from the time he arrives.
The one-time second-round pick of the Chiefs in 2011 signed with the Raiders as a free agent in 2015. Hudson just signed an extension with the Raiders in 2019 and has two years remaining on his contract. Before the trade he was scheduled to make $9.5 million in salary and have a $9.9 million cap number in 2021.
Hudson was not flagged for a penalty in 2020, a welcome addition to a team that struggled with penalties last year. He had three penalties in 2019 and one in 2018. He was named second-team All-Pro in 2019. Pro Football Focus grades him as the best pass-blocking center in the league since the start of the 2015 season.
Cole and Gaillard will battle for a backup job, or perhaps the starting right guard job that also could feature Justin Murray or Josh Jones.
The Cardinals now have two seventh-round picks in April's draft but do not have a third, a fourth (sent to Houston in the DeAndre Hopkins trade) or a sixth (sent to the Giants in the Markus Golden trade).