Kyle Rudolph

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/29/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Vikings Notes: Wilson, Mattison, Rudolph

Eric Wilson has been an unexpected surprise for the Vikings this season. The former undrafted free agent has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL, compiling 90 tackles, three interceptions, three sacks, and five tackles for loss. Per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, the 26-year-old leads his position in combined interceptions, forced fumbles and opponent fumble recoveries (six total), and that’s earned him the nickname “walking turnover” from fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Wilson didn’t miss a game through his first three seasons in the league, but he only started 10 contests. He’s started 11 games already this season, but his sudden improvement didn’t come as a huge surprise to the organization.

“Ever since Eric’s been here, he’s been able to back up both positions when Anthony [Barr] and Eric [Kendricks] were in there, and whoever went down, he just went in in that position,” co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer told Cronin. “It’s something he’s done in the past, which helps, but it’s a real tribute to the kid, how he just steps in and doesn’t miss a beat playing a completely different position in the sub [package].”

Wilson’s breakout season came at the right time; the linebacker is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the season.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Minnesota:

  • Vikings running back Alexander Mattison will miss another week as he recovers from surgery for appendicitis, per Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. The 22-year-old has appeared in 11 games this season, rushing for 338 yards and one touchdown on 74 carries. For the second-straight week, Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah will serve as the backups to Dalvin Cook.
  • Meanwhile, tight end Kyle Rudolph is listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game against the Buccaneers (per Tomasson). The veteran is currently dealing with a foot injury, but he’s determined to maintain his 98-game starting streak (including playoffs). “He’s a pretty fast healer, so we’ll just see,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “He’s been getting a lot of treatment, and he wants to play really bad. So I don’t want to count him out yet.” The 31-year-old has 28 receptions for 334 yards and one touchdown this season.
  • With Mattison sidelined, the Vikings are eyeing some free agent running backs. Tomasson reports (via Twitter) that Khalfani Muhammad was in Minnesota this week for a workout with the Vikings. The California product was a seventh-round pick by the Titans in 2017, and he’s also spent time with the Patriots, Broncos, and Cardinals.
  • In case you missed it, the Vikings signed tight end Hale Hentges off the Colts practice squad earlier this week. The 2019 undrafted free agent out of Alabama saw time in 11 games for Washington last season, hauling in eight receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown.

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

Trade Notes: Vikings, Giants, Dunlap, Jets

The Vikings greenlit this season’s biggest trade thus far by sending Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for third- and fifth-round picks. While GM Rick Spielman said the team is not waving a white flag on its 2020 season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the Vikings are willing to make more seller’s trades. Teams have contacted them about Kyle Rudolph, their 10th-year tight end who is in the first season of his latest Minnesota extension. The Vikings signed Rudolph to a four-year, $36MM extension but did so shortly after drafting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round. While Breer notes the Vikes are open for business on contract-year players, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Rudolph would make sense as a trade chip as well. He was a trade candidate before he signed his extension. Guard Pat Elflein and franchise-tagged safety Anthony Harris are the Vikings’ highest-profile contract-year players.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • While this year’s NFC East could be historically bad, the Giants are 1-6 and in a seller’s position again. They have fielded calls on Kevin Zeitler and Golden Tate, according to Breer. Tate has been a deadline chip before, with the Lions sending him to the Eagles in 2018. Tate’s through-2022 contract, thanks to a PED suspension in 2019, contains no more guaranteed money. Zeitler’s deal runs through 2021. The upper-echelon guard has more than $5MM in salary remaining this season and is due a $12MM base in 2021. The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade in 2019.
  • Washington has lost five straight and is also willing to listen on veterans, per Breer. Two that have come up: edge defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson. The former is Washington’s all-time sack leader; he has three this season for a deep D-line group. But Washington drafted Montez Sweat and Chase Young in the past two first rounds, creating a rare surplus that has moved Kerrigan to a rotational role. Kerrigan and Anderson are in contract years.
  • Carlos Dunlap took issue with the Bengals demoting him, joining Geno Atkins in voicing frustration about playing time. The Bengals were not eager to deal veterans last year, despite their struggles in a 2-14 season, but Breer adds teams view Dunlap as available for trade. Dunlap is Cincinnati’s all-time sack leader but still played a part-time role for the team last week, despite Sam Hubbard‘s IR placement. The Bengals are expected to cut Dunlap in 2021.
  • The Jets dealt nose tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers shortly after their Week 6 game, and in a rare development, McLendon knew he would be a postgame trade piece a day in advance. The Jets interestingly opted not to hold him out of last week’s game. “I got the news on Saturday night that a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa,” McLendon said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, ‘This is one last ride.’ A lot of guys were saying, ‘Man, you’re really gonna play?’ And I was like, ‘Man, this could be the last time I play with y’all in my career.'” The 11th-year veteran will now be tasked with replacing Vita Vea.
  • Traded players must go through similar protocols to free agency additions. They must pass a COVID-19 test for five days straight and pass a sixth on the day they enter the facility. This formed the Ravens‘ timetable on their Ngakoue trade, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter), in order for the defensive end to practice Wednesday and play against the Steelers next week.

North Notes: Packers, Rudolph, Steelers

The freedom Aaron Rodgers may or may not have to change plays at the line of scrimmage has become an issue in Green Bay, and first-year Packers HC Matt LaFleur explained the concern he has with enabling his decorated quarterback to have the kind of pre-snap autonomy he did under Mike McCarthy.

One thing we have to work through is the audible thing,” LaFleur said, via Michael Silver of NFL.com, of his conversations with Rodgers. “We’re running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle (Shanahan) in Houston a decade ago, and we’ve never really had a quarterback who’s had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that’s not really the way the offense is set up. But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He’s had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?

LaFleur would prefer Rodgers only have one play he can check to, while the 15th-year passer would like more leeway. The former Rams and Titans OC cited the pre-snap movement he’s bringing to Green Bay as a reason for the potential constraints Rodgers will face.

We move a lot more. There’s a lot more motion. There are a lot more moving parts,” LaFleur said, via Silver. “And so if you just let the quarterback have that freedom to just get to whatever, I’m afraid it would slow our guys down. Now, he is a special talent and he’s got an incredible mind, so as we move forward throughout this process he’s getting more freedom. It’s just, where is that happy medium?

Let’s look at the latest news out of the North divisions:

  • Although Kyle Rudolph received the outcome he wanted — a four-year, $36MM Vikings extension — he acknowledged the prospect of a Patriots trade. But it’s still unclear if the teams engaged in discussions. “Obviously the speculation is going to be there because of their situation at my position and then our team’s cash/cap situation and my salary,” Rudolph said, via SI.com’s Albert Breer. “So there was kind of just a natural, like, ‘Hey, Kyle’s familiar with the offense, he played for a coach (Charlie Weis, at Notre Dame) that was a coordinator there.” After signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Ben Watson, then cutting ASJ and nixing the Michael Roberts trade with the Lions, the Patriots still face the prospect of not having a proven tight end during Watson’s suspension.
  • The buzz about Donte Moncrief becoming Ben Roethlisberger‘s No. 2 target continues, with Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (subscription required) calling it a “slam dunk” the former Colts and Jaguars wideout will be the Steelers’ WR2. It still figures to be a collaborative effort replacing one of this generation’s best players, Antonio Brown, but it looks like Moncrief’s offseason has him in position to lead that charge.
  • Artie Burns‘ standing in Pittsburgh is certainly not on the same level, and the Steelers face a decision on the underwhelming first-round cornerback. The team has until the third day of training camp to waive Burns and save $800K, but Kaboly notes that if the fourth-year corner has not yet been cut, the Steelers are probably planning to give him another shot. Regardless, Kaboly expects this to be Burns’ final year in Pittsburgh.

Vikings, Kyle Rudolph Agree To Extension

The Vikings are giving veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph a four-year, $36MM extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Rudolph’s contract made it seem as though the two sides were headed for certain divorce, but the new deal will smooth out the tight end’s cap hit in the interim while presumably giving him guarantees beyond the 2019 season. 

Rudolph’s deal will pay him $9M this year, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (on Twitter). His 2019 salary is fully guaranteed, and his 2020 salary is guaranteed for injury. He’ll get $1.625MM added to his $7.625MM base for this year, giving him $9MM guaranteed in ’19 and $16.025MM in total guarantees (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). After 2020, Rudolph will effectively be on a year-to-year deal until its conclusion in 2023.

All along, Rudolph has said that he wanted to stay with the Vikings, though he was unwilling to take a pay cut. After achieving both goals, it’s clear that Rudolph is happy about the new deal.

Just under a decade ago, I received a phone call that would change my life. On that day, all I knew is that I would be playing in the NFL, realizing my childhood dream. What I didn’t know was the role in the state of Minnesota would play in my life,” Rudolph wrote (on Twitter). “Marrying my wife and established our home..in Minnesota. Experiencing the birth of my three beautiful children…in Minnesota. Starting a journey to better the lives of children dealing with a disease that doesn’t discriminate…in Minnesota. Giving everything I can possibly give, professionally and personally, to the greatest sports franchise and its fans…in Minnesota. And I am honored beyond words to say that my home, our home, will always be…in Minnesota!”

Before the pact, the Vikings had just $612K in cap room. Rudolph will now return to the Vikings where he’ll serve as the team’s No. 1 tight end and mentor to rookie Irv Smith Jr.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Vikings, Lions, Bears

Tight end Kyle Rudolph confirmed that he’s attempting to negotiate a new deal withe Vikings, but also said he’s been told there are “plenty of other teams” that would have interest in acquiring him, as Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com writes. Rudolph, who is scheduled to earn $7.275MM in the final year of his contract, has already stated he won’t accept a pay cut. Minnesota has the second-least cap space in the NFL, and also drafted tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Graham Glasgow could be on the move again. The Lions deployed Glasgow — who played center on nearly every offensive snap in 2018 — at right guard at organized team activities, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Glasgow’s position change will allow Detroit to move 2018 first-round pick Frank Ragnow from left guard to center, his more natural position. Glasgow, for his part, split time between left guard and center in both 2017 and 2017 before moving to center full-time last season.
  • The Bears are listing former offensive tackle Bradley Sowell as a tight end, per Adam Jahns of The Athletic (Twitter link). as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes (via Twitter), Chicago doesn’t necessarily have an in-line tight end on its roster, and Sowell played that role in 2018. Per Pro Football Focus, Sowell lined up as an tight end for 30 snaps last season, and spent another eight plays in the backfield. Memorably, Sowell caught a touchdown pass on a trick play against the Rams in December.
  • Former AAF quarterback Luis Perez recently worked out for the Lions, tweets Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Perez, who signed with the Rams after going undrafted in 2018 and just spent a month on the Eagles’ roster, tossed five touchdowns against six interceptions for the AAF’s Birmingham Iron. Detroit currently has Tom Savage and Connor Cook behind starter Matthew Stafford.

NFC Notes: Kupp, Rudolph, Lions, Eagles

Rams wideout Cooper Kupp tore his ACL back in mid-November, and the team is eyeing a Week 1 return for the 25-year-old. Kupp participated in individual drills during the Rams’ organized team activities on Monday, and he told reporters that he feels better each week.

“It’s been a long process for sure,” Kupp told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “I’ve been doing what I can to get back.

“I can’t predict how I’m going to feel even a week from now. But the way that things are going, I’m happy with the way that things are trending. Each week there’s progress.”

While Kupp wouldn’t give a definitive target date for his return, coach Sean McVay told reporters said the team is hopeful he’ll be ready to go for the season opener.

“He’s like a kid standing on the sidelines that just wants to grab a ball and go play,” McVay said. “He’s one of those guys that’s right on track with where we want him to be.”

The former third-rounder followed a standout rookie campaign with a solid 2018 season. Kupp finished the year with 40 receptions for 566 yards and six scores in eight games.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • While there’s no guarantee that he’ll be with the Vikings come the start of the season, tight end Kyle Rudolph told NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero that he’d be attending his team’s OTAs (Twitter link). We learned last week that the organization had offered the veteran a five-year extension, although there hasn’t been a lot of progress with negotiations. There were rumblings that the team could even look to move on from Rudolph after selecting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft.
  • A pair of veterans won’t be attending Lions OTAs. Coach Matt Patricia told Justin Rogers of The Detroit News that nose tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Darius Slay wouldn’t be attending the voluntary workouts (Twitter link). “Right now we are – it’s voluntary as that part of the season is concerned,” Patricia said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “Those two guys are not here. You will not see them at the practice today, but we fully expect that this time of the year, guys that are here, guys that are not. That’s totally fine. We’re working with the guys that are out there.” Both Harrison and Slay have two years remaining on their current deals, and both players are represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus.
  • Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins isn’t attending his team’s OTAs, tweets NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out on Twitter, the absence is notable because Jenkins is “one of the NFL’s most-respected players.” The defensive back is presumably seeking a new contract, although his current deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2020 season. Jenkins’ $8.75MM average annual salary still ranks in the top-10 at the position. The 31-year-old earned his third Pro Bowl nod last season.
  • Chris Long played alongside a number of talented defensive linemen with the Eagles this past season, leading to him appearing in a modest 59.1% of the team’s defensive plays. The veteran acknowledged that his diminishing role played a part in his decision to retire. “Philadelphia is where I wanted to play a couple more years,” Long told Peter King of Football Morning in America. “I love Philadelphia. But as a player I learned the most important thing to me is Sunday, and having a chance to be a big part of it. It seemed like player-coach was kind of the role that was going to be carved out for me—maybe playing 10, 12, 15 plays a game. I’m a rhythm player. I need to set people up, I need to be in the flow of the game. If I sit on the bench for three series, I can’t get rhythm, and I’ll get cold and maybe I’ll hurt myself. Some people think that’s great—play less and you won’t get hurt. Man, I want to play ball. In Philadelphia, it didn’t seem there was much of a chance to compete there. But they were honest with me the whole time. I appreciate the honesty.”

Vikings Offer Extension To Kyle Rudolph

The Vikings have offered a five-year extension to Kyle Rudolph that would make him one of the highest paid tight ends in terms of new-money average, a source tells PFT’s Mike Florio. However, there has not been much progress in talks. 

The proposed extension would likely reduce Rudolph’s $7.625MM cap number for 2019, but the veteran says there is “no way” he will take a pay cut. At the same time, Rudolph says he wants to stay with the Vikings.

The Vikings apparently want to keep Rudolph, though they have insurance after selecting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft. Ideally, they’d like to have both of the well-rounded tight ends in the fold.

Last year, Rudolph had 64 receptions for 634 yards and four touchdowns. Even though many tight end needs around the league have been addressed, Rudolph would still find a strong market if released by Minnesota.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kyle Rudolph On Pay Cut: “No Way”

Kyle Rudolph might not be a member of the Vikings for much longer. In an interview with Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune, Rudolph said there is “no way” he will accept a pay cut on his 2019 salary. 

No I won’t [accept a pay cut],” Rudolph said. “I am too young for that.”

Rudolph, 30 in November, is slated to carry a $7.625MM cap number this year. However, that figure is completely non-guaranteed, so the Vikings can wipe his entire salary off of the books without cap ramifications.

Rudolph also reiterated that he wants to stay put and expressed enthusiasm about the offense under OC Kevin Stefanski and assistant head coach Gary Kubiak. But, given his contract, his refusal to adjust the contract, and the arrival of second-round tight end Irv Smith Jr., it seems likely that Rudolph will be traded or released this offseason.

The tight end had another productive season in 2018, hauling in 64 receptions for 634 yards and four scores.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.