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Circumstances Aside, Rodney Hudson Ready To Be A Cardinal

Center 'excited' after trade from Raiders

New Cardinals center Rodney Hudson chats with coach Kliff Kingsbury prior to his initial press conference on Friday.
New Cardinals center Rodney Hudson chats with coach Kliff Kingsbury prior to his initial press conference on Friday.

The only thing Rodney Hudson is willing to see when he looks backward is Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray awaiting Hudson's snap.

The team's newest center, acquired in a trade Wednesday from the Las Vegas Raiders, spoke as a member of the Cardinals Friday and politely punted the opportunity to get into any details that led to his surprising departure from the Raiders.

"It doesn't even really matter at this point to me," Hudson said. "It might matter to some people but to me it doesn't matter how we got here, I'm just excited to be here."

The Cardinals certainly do not care, not after they went into the offseason determined to upgrade in the middle of the offensive line. It was never known for sure if the Cards made any inroads on the top free-agent center out there – Corey Linsley, who signed with the Los Angeles Chargers – but soon after Linsley was off the market came news that the Raiders were planning to release Hudson.

"The center position last year had its ups and downs," Cardinals offensive line coach Sean Kugler said in February, adding "will we try to add to that room? Will we try to add to the competition? We'll always do that."

Hudson's potential release was a shocking development, and even more stunning when Hudson reportedly had agreed to give up $3.5 million of guaranteed money to have his chance to reach free agency as the Raiders decided to blow up their entire offensive line this offseason.

Had Hudson, who will be 32 this season, reached the open market, there would have been serious demand for his services. Instead, Cardinals GM Steve Keim put together an offer the Raiders were happy to take – the Cardinals' third-round pick this year, in exchange for Hudson and a seventh-round pick – and Hudson was a Cardinal.

If Hudson was disappointed to lose the chance to pick a new team himself, he didn't act like it Friday.

"There was a good bit of uncertainty, the trade was a bit of a surprise, but here I am today and that's all that matters," Hudson said.

Hudson does know defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, who coached with the Raiders before returning to Arizona, and starting left guard Justin Pugh. It also doesn't hurt to come to a team with Murray and DeAndre Hopkins and new additions J.J. Watt and A.J. Green.

Hudson acknowledged he doesn't know a lot about the Cardinals' system, having played few common opponents. (The Raiders and Cardinals were supposed to play in the 2020 preseason opener before the pandemic led to the preseason getting canceled.) He has watched some of the highlights on YouTube.

But he has traded texts with Murray, and said he just needs to "come in and be myself" as he tries to help Murray evolve as an NFL quarterback.

The signing of Watt was a headline-grabber, but it was the acquisition of Hudson that seemed to excite the fan base more than any other move thus far. It's unusual for a guy in the middle of the offensive line, and drew a small half-smile from Hudson.

"I guess it's a little gratifying, but what really matters is just coming in, putting my feet down and working," Hudson said.