Vikings Release TE Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph‘s 10-year run with the Vikings will conclude. The Vikings are releasing their longest-tenured player, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The team confirmed the move.

The veteran tight end’s current Vikings contract runs through 2023. Moving on from Rudolph now will save the Vikings barely $5MM in cap space. Rudolph, 31, was set to count $9.4MM against Minnesota’s 2021 cap. A post-June 1 cut designation would bump up the 2021 savings to nearly $8MM.

This marks another departure from the core responsible for a few late-2010s playoff berths. Rudolph will follow Stefon Diggs, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Linval Joseph out of Minnesota. After Griffen’s 2020 exit, Rudolph — a 2011 second-round pick — became the Vikings’ longest-tenured player.

The Vikings came into Tuesday nearly $10MM over the cap. While this release will help Minnesota somewhat, the team will still need to do more to free up offseason funding. Despite the Vikings declining to trade Rudolph at last year’s deadline and during the 2019 draft, it is not surprising to see the team move on months later. The team drafted Irv Smith Jr. in the 2019 second round, and the younger player should be expected to receive a bigger role beginning next season.

Rudolph signed a second extension to stay in Minnesota in 2019, with the Vikings pulling the trigger on that contract after drafting Smith. But Rudolph’s numbers were down over the past two seasons; he failed to top 400 yards in either slate. However, the Notre Dame product scored six touchdowns in 2019 and then came through with a walk-off TD that sealed the Vikings’ wild-card upset over the Saints. He scored just one touchdown last season, however, while Smith (five TDs) ate into his receiving role.

The 6-foot-6 pass catcher ranks fifth in both receptions (453) and touchdown catches (48) in franchise history. The latter number is tops among Vikings tight ends by a considerable margin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 comments on “Vikings Release TE Kyle Rudolph

  1. zakvikes

    Are we not trying to trade him? Even a 5th rounder is better than nothing. And why wouldn’t we wait til June 1st to save 3 extra million. Spielman is pissing me off. What a dumb contract extension to begin with and now not getting max savings.

    • markdavisbarber

      I don’t see anyone wanting to take on $9 Mil salary for a 10 year TE. Kyle is the 5th highest paid TE in the league at age 32, the 10th oldest.

      I don’t think that any team in the league is a TE away, but now Kyle is free to sign with say Buffalo, Arizona, Cinny, Atlanta, Pitt, or Seattle… Hell think he would make an instant impact in New England?

    • phenomenalajs

      I think the rule is “designated post-June 1 cut.” Another team could agree to sign him before that, but the signing and corresponding cut wouldn’t become official until after June 1. It’s an accounting move.
      As for a future destination, I could see the Jets trying to sign him since TE is very important to a 49ers-style offense.

    • forstyle

      1. no team is going to pay him that in all likely his with the cap dropping, let alone give up draft picks to trade for him.

      2. designating him Post June 1st means they would have to keep the entire $9.4M on the cap until then. they likely needed the cap room at the league new year.

  2. letmeclearmythroat74

    His hometown in Cincinnati… hoping he comes to the Bengals … they could use him

  3. MileHighFan

    A good player in his prime, but Rudolph slowed considerably in the last couple years and Irv Smith essentially took his starting spot.

    No GM in the league is going to pay their backup tight-end $9 million/year.

  4. nentwigs

    Although the team probably tried to trade Rudolph, his age and contract made that impossible. Unfortunately, having drafted Smith, the last (2019) contract extension would seem to have been a huge mistake. Because now that they are releasing him, the Vikings get NOTHING but Cap Relief for this player. No Comp Pick. No Draft Pick.
    No Player. Just an Organizational Black Eye for kicking a loyal 10 year soldier out the door. Way to Go Rick !!

    • jessethegreat

      Is it not better for Rudolph to be able to chose his next destination than to force him into a situation he may not want to be a part of all for a 5th round pick?

      Does it not better serve the team morale to know that their loyalty, sacrifice, dedication goes towards something down the road? That the team will treat them accordingly?

      Also, this off-season most of the league is under a financial cap crunch, but down the road this may be the deciding factor of a “final piece” free agent deciding the Vikings as his next destination. It may also help them to lock players like Jefferson up long term.

      • nentwigs

        The BOOST to team morale would be to keep him around until the end of the extension that both parties signed.
        At least attempt to agree on a reduction in compensation.

    • Ak185

      I think it could happen, but Rudolph will have to work on his blocking to fit in NE. As a receiver, he is certainly on their radar, but his blocking has slipped a bit (and he was not necessarily known for that to begin with). Otherwise I think that it’s a good possibility. I think that there are teams in front of NE in terms of likelihood, but I can’t deny that the Pats came to mind. A reliable receiving TE is a QB’s best friend, and NE will need one to help acclimate their next QB, whomever he is.

  5. Sponge

    Thank you Kyle for 10 damn good years. Here’s to hoping you have a few more up your sleeve. Thanks again!!

  6. oldleftylong

    Rudolph was, … the red-nosed Viking. Sorry to see him leave. Thanks, Kyle for some damned good years! Best wishes on your next stop.

  7. Michael Chaney

    If the Browns didn’t already have Bryant Hooper, and Njoku, Rudolph would be a perfect fit for the Browns because of his familiarity with Stefanski and their ability to incorporate tight ends in the offense. Njoku would have to be gone for this to work though, and it’s up for debate whether that would even be worth it.

  8. Simmons>Russ

    Pats make a lot of sense but they don’t even have a QB to throw him the ball or for him to protect.

    Another team that should be interest is Cardinals and Falcons

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