Contract talks between the Minnesota Vikings and Kyle Rudolph have stalled, putting the tight end’s future in Minneapolis in jeopardy.
The Vikings have since put Rudolph on the trading block, too, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed to the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Monday. The two-time Pro Bowler is entering the final year of his five-year deal with the Vikings, and is due more than $7.6 million — which makes him the team’s fifth-highest paid player.
The Vikings, though, are in need of salary cap space — according to the NFL Network, Minnesota has just $738,054 in cap space as of Monday morning. A deal that sends Rudolph elsewhere could help the team significantly on that front.
“We’re in a tough situation as a team,” Rudolph said, via the Star Tribune. “You can’t keep everybody, and you can’t pay everybody. Those guys I know are working really hard to try to figure out something.”
The 29-year-old, though, hopes to get things figured out one way or another as quickly as possible — something he said would benefit both sides.
“Sooner rather than later,” Rudolph said, via the Star Tribune. “I don’t want to be dealing with this come OTAs, training camp, minicamp. So, the sooner the better. I think that’s for both parties. I think the Vikings want clarity. I think we want clarity. Yeah, sooner the better.
“Last week would’ve been great, too. Obviously, it’s a difficult situation and a lot of complex things go into it. That takes time. It’s not an easy cut — they like me, I like them, we want to stay here — it’s just not how it works.”
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Rudolph recorded 634 yards on 64 receptions and four touchdowns last season with the Vikings, his eighth with the team. Despite the position he’s in, Zimmer said he would love to have his tight end back this fall.
“I’ve had conversations with Kyle,” Zimmer said, via the Star-Tribune. “Quite honestly, I really love all my players. We expect Kyle to be here. Sometimes business gets in the way.”
The Vikings selected Rudolph with their second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and he’s spent his entire NFL career in Minneapolis — making him perhaps the most consistent piece in the Vikings’ offense.
Though he knows how rare that is for a player to do in today’s NFL, Rudolph said he and his family aren’t ready for a change of scenery anytime soon.
“My family, myself, we want to be here and we’re going to do everything we can to be here. But that doesn’t mean if the alternative happens, and we do get traded, change happens,” Rudolph said, via the Star Tribune. “We’ve been so fortunate to be in one place for eight years that you don’t realize how many guys change teams on a yearly basis.
“Obviously, that’s not what we’re hoping for. We’ve been very fortunate to be in one place going on nine years, and this is home for us. It’s going to be home for us. That’s the way we want it to be.”
Rudolph behind Vikings’ decision to draft TE Irv Smith Jr.
The Vikings selected Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. with their second round pick in the NFL draft last month, a player many view as an eventual replacement for Rudolph in Minneapolis — whether that’s this season or down the road.
Smith recorded 710 yards and seven touchdowns on 44 receptions for the Crimson Tide last fall, just his second with the team.
While that can add pressure to some players, Rudolph said he’s behind the front office’s decision to pick up Smith — and thinks that they can be effective on the field together this fall, should he reach a deal with the Vikings.
“I’m completely on board with the philosophy of you have to take the best player, and he was the best player available at that time,” Rudolph said, via the Star Tribune. “I think he can help our offense ... For us, to have both of us on the field at the same time, that’s how you create mismatches.”
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