Having already fortified the center position by trading for Rodney Hudson this offseason, the Arizona Cardinals made a secondary trade Thursday, shipping fourth-year pro Mason Cole to the Minnesota Vikings, according to multiple reports.
The team confirmed the deal, pending a physical, and said it was for a sixth-round pick (No. 223) in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With Hudson slotted into a starting role ahead of returning centers Mason Cole and Lamont Gaillard, it seemed likely the Cardinals would be comfortable moving one of those players, even if Cole could still operate as insurance as a depth player at center or guard.
The Cardinals appear set on moving forward with Hudson and Gaillard at center, leaving Justin Murray and Brian Winters likely competing at right guard.
A change at center became an obvious priority this offseason when run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler suggested in February that the status quo wasn’t good enough.
Cole, a third-round pick of Arizona in 2018, started 32 of 46 games played with the Cardinals. Most of those starts came at center.
He effectively opened up the starting center role for the taking after Cole and Gaillard had their ups and downs in 2020.
So then it wasn’t a surprise Arizona traded draft picks to grab Hudson from the Las Vegas Raiders just more than a week ago, keeping Hudson from being released and hitting the free agent market. The Cardinals took on his contract that has two years left, including 2021.
Hudson, 31, is a three-time Pro Bowler (2016-17, 2019) who was Second Team All-Pro in 2019.
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).