The Minnesota Vikings are caught in a difficult position in dealings with tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings are seeking to restructure Rudolph’s contract to gain more flexibility under the salary cap. The Vikings have all players on the roster under contract and are under the cap but left with little cap space to make unforeseen moves later in the season.
What does Kyle Rudolph want and what do the Minnesota Vikings want?
Rudolph is asking for a long term contract with security.
The 29 year-old Rudolph has stated that he’s, “Too young to take a pay cut” and “there are other teams interested”. Reading between the lines Rudolph is wants an extension but not a pay cut.
From the Vikings side a five-year contract has been offered, according to reports. No details on the makeup of the contract have been released. However, given Rudolph’s comments the contract may have been a net pay cut in total guaranteed dollars. There is no doubt the Vikings would be looking for a contract that allows them to part ways before the fifth year without a massive hit to the salary cap.
What are the implications for the Vikings as team?
Rudolph has been a steady presence for the Minnesota Vikings at the tight end position for the past eight years. In the past four years he’s played all 64 regular season games, had 253 receptions, 24 touchdowns and 2501 yards receiving. Hardly top of the league production at his position but certainly among the top 10. Rudolph also has some of the best hands in league only dropping a pass or two each season.
If Rudolph were to leave he wouldn’t leave a huge hole that completely sinks the offense. It would certainly take one less weapon out of the hands of Kirk Cousins. The Vikings drafted highly thought of Irv Smith and he would be on top of the tight end depth chart if Rudolph leaves. Looking back at the tight ends drafted over the last several years, very few have had a big impact as a rookie. There would almost certainly be a drop off in production at tight end if they go forward with a rookie.
Ultimately, the Vikings would like to keep Rudolph is they can. The Vikings don’t currently have a viable third wide receiver behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs so it us key they have a solid option at tight end. Having the flexibility to play 12 personnel in the Gary Kubiak/Kevin Stefanski offense would also be a huge advantage.