The Minnesota Vikings parted ways with their longest-tenured player, Kyle Rudolph, early in the offseason.
The move was a harsh reality of the nature of the NFL as a business as Rudolph’s role on the team did not live up to his contract. Meanwhile, Rudolph felt he still has some of his best football ahead of him and wanted a larger role in the offense, opting to not take a pay cut and test the waters in free agency.
Rudolph’s gamble on himself proved to be a safe bet as the 31-year-old tight end found a new home with the New York Giants, accepting a two-year contract with the NFC East team on Thursday.
The details of Rudolph’s contract have yet to be released, however, he isn’t alone in his departure from Minnesota to the Big Apple.
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Ifeadi Odenigbo Joins Giants With Rudolph
The Giants also signed former Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo on Wednesday to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
Odenigbo entered the 2020 season as one of the top breakout prospects in the NFL. Odenigbo tallied seven sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble return TD while playing 41 percent or fewer defensive snaps in 13 games in 2019.
But with Danielle Hunter ailed by a season-compromising neck injury and Yannick Ngakoue lasting just six games before he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens, Odenigbo became a prime concern for opposing offensive lines — facing the fifth-most double teams of any edger rusher in the league, per Inside the Vikings.
He led Minnesota with 42 pressures but only produced 3.5 sacks last season despite the uptick in playing time.
“I’m angry how everything played out,” Odenigbo said after the 2020 season. “I’m not going to think too much about the future. All I need to do is take a couple of weeks off, get my body back up — the body was beat down quite a bit this year — get healthy again, then work on things and watch film from this year. Obviously, I played a lot this year and I think offensive linemen were learning my tendencies. Use this offseason to get better. Don’t feel sorry for yourself because this league will move on without you.”
Odenigbo now moves on to New York where he’ll be leaned on to fortify a Giants pass rush that was dead last in 2020 at 31%.
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Vikings Pass Rudolph’s Dead Money to 2022
The Vikings, who cut Rudolph last week, designated him as a post-June 1 cut rather than a pre-June 1 cut. Salary-cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald explained why Minnesota did that, per Chris Tomasson.
“On a regular cut, Rudolph would count for $4.35 million on the cap right now and then (nothing) in 2022,” Fitzgerald said. “By using the June 1, they have to carry Rudolph at $9.3875 million from now until June 2. On June 2, then he will have $1.45 million in dead money rather than $4.35 million. He will then have a $2.9 million cap charge in 2022. So, doing it this way really cuts their cap room down for free agency but will open up more money for rookies.”
The move preserves Minnesota’s available cap for the moment, which allows them to continue to chase talent in free agency. Rudolph’s post-June 1 cap savings should cover roughly half of the expected cap needed to sign the practice squad, draft class and injured reserve, per Zone Coverage’s Nick Olson.
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