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Raiders, Rodney Hudson open dialogue about possible contract extension

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Raiders, Rodney Hudson open dialogue about possible contract extension

ALAMEDA – The Raiders paid Rodney Hudson a hefty sum to don silver and black. That was more than four years ago now, when the team was trying to climb off the AFC West floor.

They did that and ended a prolonged playoff drought, but have fallen back down and are rebuilding yet again.

Hudson has been a stabilizing force through all of that, easily one of the NFL’s elite centers and offensive minds playing the game today.

The life of that $44.5 million deal that lured him from Kansas City will end after the 2019 season.

The Raiders don’t want him going anywhere.

Hudson expertly orchestrates this offensive line and has made head coach Jon Gruden a huge fan despite him coming on with a previous regime.

That’s why they’ve opened a line of dialogue with Hudson’s camp about an extension.

“I know [general manager] has talked to his agent,” Gruden said Tuesday during the Raiders minicamp. “I don’t want to get into specifics of those conversations, but we consider him a big piece of this franchise and we’re going to do everything we can to keep him here for a long time.”

It certainly won’t be cheap, but will be worth it in the Raiders' eyes as they continue to strengthen their ranks before a scheduled move to Las Vegas in 2020. The center market gives roughly $10.5 million per year, with roughly $20 million in guaranteed for top players at the position. Hudson should command that, if not more.

[RELATED: Raiders' once dominant offensive line needs some help]

Hudson is a franchise centerpiece and a respected team captain, someone involved in his sports and interests outside it. He recently graduated with an MBA from Nova Southeastern University.

“He has graduated from Pass Protection U and Run Blocking State, and now he has a master’s degree in business,” Gruden said with a smile. “That just certifies what kind of guy you’re dealing with. He’s a great player on the field. He’s one of our captains and team leaders, and is as tough a guy as we have.

"I’ve seen him play with kidney stones and various ailments. To get a master’s degree is a huge accomplishment, and I’ll compliment him until the day’s end. He’s special.”

Raiders' Rodney Hudson ranked among best interior linemen in ESPN poll

Raiders' Rodney Hudson ranked among best interior linemen in ESPN poll

The Raiders have seen massive roster turnover over the past few seasons since coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock took over control of the organization.

But one stalwart throughout the adapting lineup has been veteran center Rodney Hudson. And with good reason, as ESPN recently ranked Hudson as the sixth-best interior offensive lineman in the NFL.

Anyone who has followed the Raiders over the past half-decade can tell you that Hudson has been an impeccable leader of the team's entire offensive linemen, helping run the offense along with quarterback Derek Carr.

[RELATED: Bill Callahan's 'dumbest team in America' rant sealed his Raiders fate]

Hudson has been especially proficient in pass protection, where he ranked either first or second every season in Pro Football Focus' pass-blocking grades from 2014-19. The Florida State product also came in at No. 99 on PFF's All-Decade top 101.

He signed a three-year, $33.75 million extension with the Raiders in Aug. of 2019, making him the highest-paid center in the NFL. Given all the evidence above, Hudson clearly has earned it with his play for the Silver and Black.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Raiders' Henry Ruggs had lowest drop rate among first-round receivers

Raiders' Henry Ruggs had lowest drop rate among first-round receivers

Henry Ruggs had plenty of qualities that warranted being the first wide receiver off the board in April's draft.

Top-of-the-line speed, eye-popping athleticism and solid production at one of the nation's best collegiate programs made Ruggs an easy choice for Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden.

Pro Football Focus provided more evidence to support Ruggs' case, as he ended his time at Alabama with the lowest drop rate among the six wideouts taken in this year's first round.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The speedster averaged 19.5 yards per touch over his junior season, making the most of every opportunity with the Crimson Tide in 2019. Although he caught just 40 passes last season, seven went for touchdowns, with Ruggs adding a 75-yard touchdown run (pass was caught behind the line of scrimmage) during a win over New Mexico State.

[RELATED: Would Raiders have won SB XXXVII if Robbins had played?]

Over his entire career in Tuscaloosa, 24 of his 98 receptions resulted in touchdowns.

The Raiders will need Ruggs' sure hands right away, as quarterback Derek Carr hopes to get the Raiders off to a strong start in the franchise's inaugural season in Las Vegas.