The Patriots needed someone to fill Rob Gronkowski's massive shoes at tight end, after all, and Rudolph played his college ball under former New England defensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.
But Rudolph insists there was no real merit to reports that he'd join the Patriots other than pundits simply connecting dots.
"I don't know how real those trade possibilities were," Rudolph told the MMQB's Albert Breer. "But, like you said, I played for Charlie. So for me, I've kind of followed that organization from afar since 2008 when I got my first Notre Dame playbook and we watched cut-ups from the Patriots offense that we were running.
"I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for what they've done over the last two decades. But I don't know that there was ever any real opportunity there."
Brady has high expectations for Patriots' tight ends in 2019
From a football standpoint, it appears Rudolph would have a had real opportunity to thrive in New England; the two-time Pro Bowler would have been quarterback Tom Brady's No. 1 tight end in an offense that leans heavily on the position. (Remember when Tim Wright caught a career-high six touchdowns for the Patriots in 2014?)
But it's unlikely the Patriots would have matched the four-year, $36 million contract the Vikings gave Rudolph, who clearly desired to remain with the team that drafted him.
That means New England must look elsewhere for tight end help after Benjamin Watson's four-game suspension, Austin Seferian-Jenkins' release and a failed trade with the Detroit Lions for Michael Roberts.
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