The Vikings made a splash last week in the draft, when they took Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. 50th overall. Smith was considered by many to be the third best tight end in the draft behind the Iowa standouts, and the Vikings are hoping he can turn into a consistent third option behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the future. But the move could have more immediate implications for one current member of the team, tight end Kyle Rudolph. The selection “appeared to foreshadow that Rudolph’s days in Minnesota could be numbered,” writes Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com.
Additionally, sources told Cronin that the Vikings “fielded interest” before and during the draft about a potential trade for Rudolph. We heard in March that the Vikings had asked Rudolph to take a pay cut, but his representatives then pushed back forcefully on that and denied the report. His reps also said at the time that the team had told them Rudolph would be on the roster in 2019, but that’s looking like far from a sure thing now. Last month Albert Breer of SI.com speculated that the Patriots could be interested in adding Rudolph. With New England looking thin at tight end after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, it wouldn’t be a shocker.
Here’s more from Minnesota:
- New Vikings long snapper Austin Cutting, a seventh round pick of the team, will report to rookie minicamp but has signed an “injury protection agreement” instead of his rookie contract, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Cutting is an Air Force product, and he’s not signing “out of respect to letting the Air Force eventually give a final decision of if he can play in 2019,” Tomasson writes. Cutting could possibly have to leave the team for two years to fulfill his service requirements, but we won’t know for sure for a little while longer.
- Receiver Jeff Badet spent last season on the Vikings’ practice squad, and he signed a reserve/futures deal with the team after the season ended. But he almost didn’t end up back with the Vikings, as he was courted by the Jets, according to Tomasson. Minnesota ended up giving the Oklahoma product a $75K bonus to stick around, which swayed him. Badet, an undrafted rookie last year, became the second player to almost defect to the Jets before coming home after Anthony Barr‘s heavily publicized free agency ordeal.
- The Vikings are looking to convert safety Jayron Kearse to a weakside linebacker this offseason, sources told Tomasson. Kearse was taken by the Vikes in the seventh round back in 2016. A Clemson product, Kearse played linebacker in high school before being switched to safety in college. Kearse played around 20 percent of the Vikings’ defensive snaps last season and was a key player on special teams, so he’s got a significant role. It’ll be interesting to see how his transition turns out.