With trade speculation swirling since last week, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph on Monday made it clear that he wants to stay with the team that chose him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
"I've stated it many times: my family, myself, we want to be here, and we're going to do everything we can to be here," said Rudolph, via NFL.com, speaking at head coach Mike Zimmer's charity golf outing.
"But that doesn't mean that if the alternative happens, and we do get traded, change happens. My focus each and every day is getting better as a player. When I’m better as a player, that will help this team be better, this offense be better."
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that contract extension talks between the Vikings and Rudolph broke down last week, a situation that could lead to a trade.
Minnesota would free up more than $7 million by trading Rudolph. The money could be used to help sign the rest of the 2019 draft class. A trade would also put immediate pressure on rookie second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. to fill Rudolph's shoes.
Rudolph, the 50th overall selection in the April draft, was a star at Alabama and is clearly the future tight end of the Vikings. But Rudolph believes he and Smith on the field together will create mismatches.
“When we have two tight ends on the field, we can dictate the tempo of the play. We have control and not the defense," said Rudolph, noting that Minnesota typically plays with three wide receivers, one tight end and one running back, which usually leaves him lined up with a speedy defensive back.
End of the day, Rudolph knows he's at risk of becoming a cap casualty, with business decisions possibly outweighing his desire to stay in Minnesota.
“Business decisions have to be made. [Even] if we’re not here, if the Rudolph family is not here and we’re playing somewhere else, it doesn’t mean that our impact on this community would change,” Rudolph said. “Unfortunately, business decisions have to be made, and there’s a lot of good guys in this league. Unfortunately, being a good guy can’t outweigh business decisions that have to be made. I understand that."