Here we are. At the center position. One of the few positions the Raiders should be set but may not be due to the uncertainty surrounding Stefen Wisniewski. He and the team have not agreed to terms on a new contract and if that doesn't happen, he will hit free agency. If that happens, they would be left with just 31-year-old utility interior lineman Kevin Boothe on the team. That's not a favorable situation.
These free agent centers would present a far better situation for the Raiders:
One of the best young centers in the NFL last year and he has gotten better the past couple years. He won't come cheap, but if the Raiders want him, they have the cash to make it happen. He stands to be one of the biggest prizes in free agency... if he makes it to free agency. He certainly would be the best center on the market.
Here is what Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride had to say about Hudson:
The Chiefs need to bring Hudson back because he was their best offensive lineman last year and they should be in the business of adding good players, not letting them walk away. The problem is that Hudson is going to be expensive He's probably the best center on the market and could get a deal as high as $6 million per year. That may be too rich for the Chiefs blood unfortunately. What's tough is that the Chiefs don't really have an obvious replacement for him (besides a sixth round pick who hasn't played in two years). This is another 50/50 situation. If the Chiefs let him hit the market, he's gone.
Rodney Hudson is considered by most to be an upgrade to Wisniewski. Though letting Wiz go in favor of focusing on Hudson is a big risk. There are many other teams in the NFL who will also be vying for Hudson's services and if the Raiders attempt to sign Hudson and he ends up elsewhere, they better hope those flirtations don't turn Wiz off from coming back as he and Hudson are possibly the only two good options on the market.
If it were me, I would have Wisniewski as the top priority here simply because he is already in the building and on a team with quite a few holes to fill which can't really afford to add another hole unnecessarily. The only way this gambit pays off is if Hudson agrees to terms prior to free agency opening. Wiz will receive interest from other teams so they would have to simply hope he hasn't agreed to terms elsewhere so they can re-sign him and move on to filling other needs.
Brian De La Puente
A last ditch third option. Say Hudson goes elsewhere and Wiz moves on as well. De La Puente becomes the best bet as a third option. This former undrafted free agent spent six different stints in training camp and practice squads with five different teams over three years from 2008-10. He finally made the Saints roster in 2011 and started 12 games that season. He was the fulltime starting center in New Orleans for three seasons before leaving as a free agent to sign with the Chicago Bears where he couldn't hold onto a starting job.
He grades out well as a blocker so it would stand to reason if the Saints were looking to upgrade from him and the Bears demoted him in favor of 35-year-old Roberto Garza, that there is something not right. Hard to say exactly what that might be.
Additionally, De La Puente is a Cal alum, born in Los Angeles so he would likely welcome a return home to play for the Raiders. I'm sure the Cal fan contingency among Raider Nation would like to see that happen.
Here is what Lester A. Wiltfong Jr of Windy City Gridiron had to say about De La Puente:
After starting 44 games for the New Orleans Saints from 2011-2013, he struggled to find a job last off season. It wasn't until April 6th of last year that the Bears, and his former position coach Aaron Kromer, took a one year flier on de la Puente.
I thought it was a good signing, and I thought he played well last year. I'd also be fine if the Bears decided to bring him back. In only 320 snaps at center, PFF gave him a +8.2. The Bears just seemed to like the way veteran Roberto Garza handled their o-line. I think De La Puente is a solid pro, but he's never going to be a Pro Bowl type player and if you have two guys you feel are equal in talent, why not go with the the experience and intangibles.