It’s still unclear why Arizona Cardinals center Rodney Hudson missed the team’s mandatory minicamps this week.
Sixth-round rookie Lecitus Smith and left guard Justin Pugh took over the reps at center in Hudson’s absence. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury told the media that Hudson’s absence was unexcused. Kingsbury didn’t want to go into detail about Hudson.
“Yes, no update,” Kingsbury said. “We’re working through something with him. As soon as we know, we will have this update.”
Hudson, 32, appeared and started 12 games for the Cardinals in 2021 as he was dealing with a rib injury and a COVID stint. He has a base salary of $10.9 million this season and $8.3 million in 2023.
USA Today’s Cards Wire’s Jess Root laid out possible options at the starting center position as it looks like if Hudson doesn’t return to the team. Root brought the opportunity to center Pugh, offensive lineman Sean Harlow, or free-agent center Billy Price. The Cardinals visited Price in May.
Root also suggested the idea of the Cardinals signing free agent JC Tretter. Root said, “Tretter was released by the Browns this offseason after being their starting center for five seasons. He’s only missed one game in five seasons.”
After playing for the Green Bay Packers from 2013 to 2017, Tretter signed a three-year, $16 million contract in 2017. Tretter was released by the Browns in 2022 after signing a three-year extension that was renewed for $32 million in 2019.
Tretter is arguably the best center in the free agent market. He had a PFF score of 78.7 in 2021 and only allowed one sack on 1,039 snaps. Tretter’s grade was the fifth-highest grade for any Browns player in 2021. The Browns firing Tretter had more to do with finances than his level of play.
While the veteran center is set to enter his season at the age of 31, availability hasn’t been an issue. Tretter has played 16 games in each of the last five seasons.
Any team that signs Tretter would get a leader as he has served as the president of the NFL Players Association since 2020.
Right tackle Kelvin Beachum spoke at 98.7 FM Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke about how Hudson is doing and whether both sides can come together with the problem that arises.
“As far as I know, he’s fine” said Beachum. “He had a son not long ago. (He) has a young daughter, so I know he puts family first like any father would, and I know the rest is between him and the organization. Know that he is in a good mood and excited to see what will become of it in the coming weeks.”
If Hudson were to retire, Trett’s signing would be a no-brainer. But if Hudson stays with the team, there are other areas to explore.
Even with voluntary OTAs, the two-time Pro Bowl center was not a participant. Hudson could face fines totaling $47,941 for missing two days of mandatory minicamp. At the same time, Arizona could choose not to punish him.