Kyle Rudolph signed a four year $36 million contract continuing stability at the position while second round pick Irv Smith develops. The contract is team friendly, only going from $7.625 million in 2019 to $9.0 million and a total of $16 million guaranteed over the four years. The exact structure of the contract isn’t available but it would appear that with only $7 million guaranteed after 2019 it likely means that the Vikings will have little dead money on his contact after the first two years of the contract. This would leave the Vikings an “easy out” after the first two seasons.
Kyle Rudolph signing gives stability to Minnesota Vikings offense
Until the full contract details are revealed it is only safely assumed that Rudolph will be here for two seasons. The final two seasons could be in play if the dead money is back-loaded but it’s unlikely. So, safely assuming he’s here the next two season: How does this affect the offense?
Well, Gary Kubiak will have a big influence on Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Over Kubiak’s more than 20 seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator his offenses targeted a TE an average of 120 times per season. Over Rudolph’s career he’s averaged five targets per game or 82 per season. Rudpolph’s 2016 with 132 targets skews the stats some, if you take out that outlier season he averages about 75 targets a season. If the pattern with Kubiak follows under Stefanski it would be 38% increase in targets to the TE position. Given that reliance on the TE, it was clear that keeping Rudolph who is a reliable pass catcher and red zone threat was a priority in a Kubiak/Stefanski offense.
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The Vikings spent a second round pick on Irv Smith, likely with the notion to run 12 personnel at a higher rate. The offense will be more run oriented and being able to field two competent TE will benefit the run game. David Morgan is going to see more snaps than Smtih on run plays to start. Smith will offer a quicker, more athletic option out of 12 personnel which will give Cousins another weapon. Also, with two pass-catching TE the Vikings offense will be less predictable because they should be able to both run and pass out of 12 personnel effectively. This unpredictability could benefit both the run and passing games.
In the end, with the offense depending on the TE position so much the Vikings were right to lock-down one of the most reliable ones in the game. Rudolph is a high character player, high football IQ and catches everything thrown at hims. Not many teams would turn down having that sort of player on their team.