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Center market remains full with free agency set to open on Wednesday

And the Rams might need a center

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Austin Blythe did not make CBS Sports’ top 100 free agents list this year, but four of the six centers who did get ranked remain available, all could be upgrades to Blythe in the middle, and Rodney Hudson isn’t even among them because he was only released this week by the Las Vegas Raiders.

Update: Josina Anderson reports the Raiders are still trying to trade Hudson first.

Update #2: Hudson has been traded to the Cardinals

Should the Rams set everything else aside for now and just pursue Hudson? The deep market of available centers could at least give Les Snead a chance to find value in the low-hanging fruit.

The best center to sign with another team this year was Corey Linsley, the top-ranked free agent at the position. Linsley is signing a five-year, $62.5 million contract with the LA Chargers when free agency officially begins at 1 PT. That figure sets a precedent for premier centers under 30, but are there any of those left?

Hudson, who turns 32 in July, has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last five years, but in the modern era of NFL fandom that may pale in comparison to the praise he’s received from ProFootballFocus in the last half-decade. Hudson is their highest graded center year after year.

What Hudson wants to sign for is a mystery, but keep in mind that 32 years of age is about as high as it gets at the position right now. Only 34-year-old Jason Kelce of the Eagles and 36-year-old Alex Mack, who just signed with the 49ers as of Wednesday morning, would seem to represent older options at the position.

But Kelce and Mack have also had post-31 success and therefore the same fate could await Hudson, who has only missed one game in the last five years and only four in the last eight.

Knowing what Mack signed for would be helpful, but Kelce just re-did his contract to be paid up to $12 million next season. It would stand to reason that Hudson is looking for a deal that pays him at least $10 million in 2021, if not a multi-year pact that pays him $12 million+ per season.

He’s not that much older than Linsley.

But don’t fret if the Rams don’t get Hudson because they’re currently cash-strapped after re-signing Leonard Floyd for $16 million per season. There are a few other centers who remain available, including a reunion with Blythe:

  • David Andrews, formerly of the Patriots, is 28
  • Austin Reiter, Chiefs, 29
  • Matt Skura, Ravens, 28
  • Nick Martin, 27, Texans
  • Blythe, who turns 29 in June
  • Ethan Pocic, Seahawks, 25
  • Joe Looney, Cowboys, 30
  • Ted Karras, Dolphins, 28 (update: roughly exactly when this article was posted, Karras went back to his former team in New England)

With a new quarterback and most certainly new wrinkles added to the offense because of it, Sean McVay want to go an entirely different direction at center than Blythe. He might also be able to squeeze more value out of some of these “value centers” than the average coach with the average offense. Hudson represents the best option available but knowing that LA isn’t going to have $10 million+ to spend on the middle of their offensive line right now — potentially just moving Austin Corbett to center is another option — at least there remain plenty of other choices.

Poll

Should the Rams spend more than $6 million in 2021 cap space on the center position?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Yes, it’s too important to be cheap or inexperienced
    (160 votes)
  • 23%
    No, Corbett can handle it
    (106 votes)
  • 15%
    No, but do find a cheap starting center on the market
    (70 votes)
  • 25%
    Yes, but only if it’s Hudson!
    (114 votes)
450 votes total Vote Now