If there were any hard feelings between tight end Kyle Rudolph and the Minnesota Vikings’ coaching staff and front office, all is forgiven for now.
Rudolph caught the four-yard game-winning touchdown in overtime on Sunday evening, with the Vikings moving on to face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional round next weekend. It was his fourth catch of the game, and the second postseason touchdown catch of his career.
“I’m just so proud of our guys; I’m so happy,” Rudolph said after the game.
Explaining the play he said, “I played a lot of basketball in my life; they brought all-out pressure, and Kirk gave me a chance, and — just go up and get the rebound.”
But it wasn’t very long ago that Minnesota seemed intent on moving on from Rudolph, a 2011 second-round pick, when he said he wouldn’t take a pay cut and the cap-strapped Vikings were looking for ways to get into a better position.
Rudolph’s base salary for 2019 at the time was $7.625 million, and Minnesota had less than $1.3 million in cap space. At one point last spring, there was an NFL Network report that the Vikings and New England Patriots had had some discussions about trading Rudolph to the Patriots after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.
But in June, the two sides worked out a solution: Rudolph agreed to a four-year, $36 million extension that gave the Vikings around $4 million in cap relief for the regular season by lowering his 2019 base.
Rudolph has played and started every game over the past five years, and earned a Pro Bowl trip in 2017.
In the regular season, he had 39 catches for 367 yards and six touchdowns; eight of his receptions were in the red zone.
Make that nine after Sunday’s game-winner, when he pulled in the perfectly placed touchdown pass from Cousins.
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