Skip to main content

Wide Left: Vikings need to find a way to keep Kyle Rudolph

Diehard fan Blair Anderson wants the Vikings to dig for quarters in the couch.
Kyle Rudolph

The role that the Minnesota Vikings have played financially this season has been eerily similar to my financial wisdom during my college days. They made a big purchase a year ago that they probably shouldn’t have made. Then as soon as the bills came due, they started scrambling for money trying to pay for that while also trying to find some cash for the necessities of daily life.

For me, that involved digging around in couch cushions and trying to find quarters just so I could get another ill-advised 2-for-1 on a Thursday night. For the Vikings, it means restructuring everyone’s contract just so they can afford to have an offensive line. Necessities, man.

As the offseason has trudged on, the Vikings have magically found money to make improvements. They re-signed Anthony Barr to a monster contract and still had room to add Shamar Stephen and Josh Kline into the fold, but now they need to find a way to actually pay the players they just drafted two weeks ago. As that bill comes up, teams will usually have an awkward conversation with a veteran to try and free up some cash.

GM: Hey, bud. Can we talk?

Player: What’s up?

GM: Well, we’re broke.

Player: Maybe you shouldn’t have given me X dollars last year?

GM: About that…

Right about now, the Vikings are having that discussion with tight end Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph has been synonymous with the Vikings over the past decade after being drafted in 2011 and ranks toward the top of franchise’s all-time receiving list in yards (9th), receptions (8th) and touchdowns (5th). He’s done so much for the team on the field that they put together a massive Walter Payton Man of The Year Campaign that highlighted his work at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital off of it.

It’s safe to say that Mr. Rudolph is a pretty good dude and if contracts were made on the sole purpose of that, he’d be a Viking for life. Unfortunately, the NFL is all about what’s best for business and since Rudolph’s play has dropped off the past couple of seasons, he’s about to become the purple version of Old Yeller.

Rudolph is just two years removed from his career year in 2016, where he caught 83 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns, but his numbers (57 rec., 532 yards, 8 TD) took a dive despite making his second career Pro Bowl in 2017. Last year, his numbers (64 rec., 634 yards, 4 TD) looked a little better, but take out a nine-catch, 122 yard, 2 TD explosion against the Detroit Lions (and even then take out a Hail Mary in there), it doesn’t look great.

Perhaps the Vikings were thinking the same thing, because they used a second-round pick on tight end Irv Smith Jr. The Alabama product can be used as a giant chess piece within the offense, but many believe that Smith will eventually supplant Rudolph as soon as next year when the 30-year-old’s contract expires.

Hence is why the Vikings would like to either sign Rudolph to an extension or come to terms on a restructure for 2019, where he is due roughly $7.2 million against the salary cap. While that number can buy a whole lot of Grain Belt Premium, the Vikings would rather use some of that money for wiggle room so they’re not completely pressed against the cap.

With not much money to go around, the offer the Vikings put together must not have been flattering, because Rudolph has cut off negotiations with the team. Although he has said he doesn’t want to be traded, the two sides have come to a stalemate with Rudolph wanting a firm answer by the time the Vikings report for OTAs this weekend.

So what should the Vikings do? Should they wait it out and see if Rudolph’s good teammate aura shows up for work? Or do they be proactive, clear the $7 million off the books and see if New England can make him the second coming of Rob Gronkowski? Actually, they should come to a compromise.

Rudolph is not going to confuse anyone for one of the more athletic tight ends in the league, but he does serve a purpose. Last year, Rudolph actually had the highest catch rate of his career, catching 78 percent of his targets and without him in the mix, you’re looking at replacing him at a position that typically requires a year or two for young players to make a real impact.

It won’t be easy, but Rob Brzezinski has pulled bigger rabbits out of his hat before and as the guy I wish managed my checking account in college, I think the two sides should be up to the task of figuring it out.

Next Up

fire truck

Explosion reported near Hastings; man airlifted to hospital

Authorities say the victim has serious injuries.

Screen Shot 2022-10-05 at 2.30.07 PM

School faces uncertain future after land sold to Catholic nonprofit

The school near Marine on St. Croix sits on land that's just been sold.

BikeCarSceneMpls

Boy suffers 'life-threatening' injuries in car-bike collision in Minneapolis

Police said the driver is cooperating with the investigation.

North Memorial Health Hospital

Man dies from gunshot wounds after Minneapolis shooting

The death marked the 69th homicide of the year in the city.

image

Gallery: Island cabin is one of northernmost homes for sale in MN

Want to buy one of the northernmost homes on the market in Minnesota?

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

Charges: Houston men robbed Edina bank of $110,000

A third suspect has not yet been identified.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys coming to Minnesota for 2023 tour

The rock band hasn't gone on tour in the United States since 2019.

Related

Mike Zimmer

Wide Left: What the Vikings need to figure out during the NFL Draft

Blair Anderson takes a look at the Vikings' situation in his latest Wide Left blog.

Wide Left: Midseason report card for the Vikings

With the Vikings 6-2 and in the thick of the NFC playoff race, Blair figured it was a good time to draw attention to those who are excelling and also to those who simply aren't making the grade.

Mike Zimmer

Wide Left: Is the Vikings' championship window still open?

With a lot of holes to fill, Blair Anderson has his doubts.

Laquon Treadwell

Wide Left: 'Unfortunate reality' that Treadwell will be the 3rd WR

Another hilarious blog from Blair Anderson, the fan who bleeds purple.

Kyle Sloter

Wide Left: All Vikings fans want is to give Kyle Sloter a chance

Blair Anderson is a superfan speaking on behalf of all fans.

Kevin Stefanski

Wide Left: Revamped Vikings offense needs to be re-revamped

Any other Vikings fans feel the way Blair Anderson does?

Kyle Rudolph

Report: Kyle Rudolph to sign with Giants

The former Vikings tight end has agreed to a two-year deal.

Dalvin Cook

Wide Left: What to be thankful for with the Vikings season

With an 8-3 record, it's easy to be thankful for the Vikings right now.