After ten years of playing with the Minnesota Vikings, tight end Kyle Rudolph became a free agent. The franchise from Minneapolis decided to release the player and save cash and salary-cap space.
Rudolph FA For the First Time in His Career
The 31-year old faces a very odd situation as he looks for a new team for the first time in his pro career. Since being drafted as the 43rd overall pick in 2011, Rudolph spent all the time playing for the Vikings.
However, the franchise decided to part ways with the strong TE, whose numbers suffered a significant drop during the previous year. In 12 matches, he recorded just 334 receiving yards for one touchdown in mediocre 28 receptions.
Per various sources, that didn’t please the Vikings’ management, who gave the player a four-year $36 million contract extension during the 2019 season. He was supposed to stay in Minnesota until 2023, but the Vikes decided to release him now and save around $5.2 million in cap space this year. Otherwise, Rudolph would be the fifth-highest paid TE in the NFL when looking at the average annual paycheck.
In 10 years with this team, the Notre Dame alumni posted 453 receptions for 4.488 yards and 48 TDs. He earned a Pro-Bowl selection on two occasions in 2012 and 2017, surpassing numerous franchise records. Vikes team couldn’t be imagined without the former him during this period.
In a short time since arriving from college, Rudolph became the favorite of the fans and now leaves the team as one of the biggest players in franchise history.
He also left a massive mark in Minnesota’s community through charity work, being one of the founders of the End Zone foundation at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. The Vikes nominated him for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award on three occasions, but he never won the honors.
What’s Next For Rudolph?
Even though he had a couple of injuries throughout his career, Rudolph still generates a solid buzz on the market. Immediately following last night’s news, the social networks became flooded with various speculations about the player’s future.
Cleveland Browns are atop all the lists when talking about his next destination because Kevin Stefanski and Rudolph used to work together in Minnesota. The current Browns’ head coach used to be an offensive coordinator with the Purple, and during that time, Rudolph was one of the focal points of the Vikes’ attack. In all the critical situations, Stefanski would call actions for his tight end.
Denver Broncos also appear in the majority of the debates. Their new General Manager, George Paton, came from Minnesota during this offseason to replace John Elway. He was involved in Rudolph’s draft and knows him better than anyone.
Also, Paton is now searching for a suitable addition to the Broncos’ receiving corps. Denver has talented Noah Fant at the TE position, who needs a proper mentor and a backup. Right now, there aren’t better choices on the market than Rudolph.
The Cincinnati Bengals are in the mix as well. Cinci is Rudolph’s hometown, and it would be logical for him to end up there to spend the final few years of his career. Plus, the Bengals have a pass-first offense which would suit Rudolph very well.