Just a few weeks ago it looked like Kyle Rudolph was on his way out of Minnesota. Now the Vikings might sign their star tight end to a new contract.
Vikings fans concerned about losing Kyle Rudolph before the start of the 2019 regular season can breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of cutting or trading the quality tight end, it now looks like Minnesota officials want to extend his stay with the team.
Rudolph doesn’t necessarily think that negotiations between the team and his representatives are “close” to a resolution, but he does claim the two sides are “working.” That’s a big step forward from where the situation seemed headed just a few days ago. Many NFL executives were convinced that Rudolph was on the trading block. There were even some teams who believed he might ultimately get cut by the Vikings if they couldn’t find a team interested in surrendering a draft pick for his services.
In fairness, the Vikings never wanted to get rid of Rudolph. He might not be the most dynamic tight end in football, but he is a valuable pass catcher for Kirk Cousins and his team’s passing attack. Replacing his 64 catches for 634 yards and four touchdowns would have been a challenge for the Vikings front office.
The trouble the Vikings have with Rudolph can be entirely attributed to his cap hit of $7.25 million for the 2019 season. It’s questionable whether or not he’s worth that sort of compensation and the Vikings are a franchise that is really struggling to keep all of their stars happy.
Signing Cousins to one of the biggest contracts in football before the 2018 season puts the Vikings in a very difficult place moving forward. There simply isn’t enough salary cap room to keep all of the team’s corps players in place. The front office has done a magnificent job of shuffling things around to keep the team largely in tact this offseason, but at some point their ability to maneuver is simply going to run out.
The good news is that Rudolph only has one year left on his current deal. The Vikings are almost certainly looking to sign him to a long-term extension that will reduce his cap hit in the future. That’s a compromise Rudolph should be willing to make. Tight ends entering their 30s aren’t usually a hot commodity in free agency. It’s probably best for him to stay put in his comfort zone as long as the Vikings are willing to make him a respectable offer.
If this deal gets done it will be a nice win for both the Vikings and Rudolph. Don’t be surprised if both sides find enough common ground to get a deal done in the near future.