Nov 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs center Rodney Hudson (61) before the start of the game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Guards and Centers
With Stefen Wisniewski on his way out the door and the word that Austin Howard – last years’ starting right guard – may be moving over to right tackle, there are some openings on the Raiders offensive line. While the job of left tackle Donald Penn and left guard Gabe Jackson appear secure for now, it’s highly likely that Reggie McKenzie will look to add a couple of solid interior linemen in free agency to improve on a unit that was part of the worst rushing offense in the NFL last year. Here are a few names:
Rodney Hudson: Hudson, formerly of the Chiefs, is the best center on the open market right now and there’s almost no way the Chiefs can retain him, as he’ll want elite center money. The nimble, svelte (for an NFL offensive lineman) Hudson is a great athlete at the position, and projects well as the center in a tempo offense like the one Musgrave is apparently planning. He may be one of the top targets for the Raiders in free agency, especially with a pretty thin draft class at the position. At only 25 years old, he has potential to be the long-term solution for the team at the position, as well.
Brian de la Puente: De la Puente, who has been both a center and guard in his career, had his best years for the New Orleans Saints between 2010 and 2013, and is coming off an injury-marred year for the Bears and apparently headed to free agency. A Los Angeles native and Cal product, he is entering his eight NFL season and approaching his 30th birthday. De la Puente is a capable interior lineman who will likely come relatively cheap, and could potentially start.
Gabe Carimi: Carimi, a tackle-turned guard who has played most of his pro career with Mike Tice as his O-line coach, may be interested in reuniting with Tice, who came over from the Falcons to take the same position in Oakland. Carimi, who was a first round pick in 2011, has had injury problems during his career and hasn’t quite caught on as a full-time starter anywhere, but looked solid last year at guard for the injury-plagued Falcons line under Tice’s mentorship. He may be available cheap and has the versatility to be quality depth at both guard and tackle, if not a starter.
Orlando Franklin: With the Broncos in cap trouble and needing to retain Peyton Manning’s receiving threats, the massive guard may be on his way out the door. At 6’7″ and 320 pounds, Franklin is a monster who was a very effective right tackle for the Broncos for three years before being moved to guard in 2014. He proved to be excellent at that position as well, helping the Broncos improve as a rushing offense while still providing quality pass protection for the Raiders. Franklin is only 27, and with his background at tackle can be a very versatile fit for the Raiders anywhere on the line.
Next: 2015 FA Watch List: Tight End