This could lead to another offseason where the Vikings must part ways with several household names who have been pivotal to Minnesota’s rise to prominence this past decade.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph, 31, has been a trade candidate for several years as the two-time Pro Bowler commands a top-end salary but has been on the decline of his career for several seasons.
Bleacher’ Report suggested Rudolph being traded to the Washington Football Team is a move that “should happen” in 2021 as the Vikings seek to create cap space while Washington is in need of a veteran tight end to aid the development of rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
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Bleacher Report Claims Washington Could Field Rudolph for as Little as a Third-Round Pick
Since Minnesota signed Rudolph to a four-year, $36 million contract extension in the summer of 2019, the veteran tight end has regressed as a receiver — posting 367 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 to 334 yards and one TD through 12 games this season.
The emergence of sophomore tight end Irv Smith Jr. and the Vikings’ offense shifting away to other weapons has played a role in Rudolph’s regression. Rudolph has proven to be a reliable red-zone threat last season, catching a walk-off game-winning touchdown in the NFC Wild Card round, but his overall production does not warrant the money backloaded in his contract.
Rudolph’s expected $8 million total cash in 2021 ranks fourth in the league, per Over the Cap, while his 27.83 receiving yards per game this season ranks 27th among tight ends. He does provide intangible experience as a blocker in the offense, however, the emergence of Smith and Tyler Conklin have applied pressure on a shakeup at the position.
Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling said a deal could be reached with Washington for as little as little as a third-round pick. It’d be a decent return on Rudolph who was a mid-second round pick in 2011, although the Vikings may not want to part ways with an integral part of the team leadership for only a single pick.
Rudolph May Need to Take a Pay Cut to Stay with the Vikings
While it remains to be seen how Minnesota deals with a potential salary-cap catastrophe in the offseason, Rudolph’s contract could be one of several on the chopping block this season.
Rudolph put his Wayzata mansion on the market back in June, and while this is no indication he is leaving the state this offseason, it does signal a shift in the 31-year-old’s life. Deeply rooted in Minnesota, Rudolph could simply be looking for a home closer to the team’s training facility in Eagan and potentially downsizing.
He opened up about his name being among several trade rumors during the bye week when the Vikings were 1-5, saying he hopes to finish his career with the Vikings.
“I joked around a couple times this week that I feel like I’ve been on the trade block for the last three years and I’m still here in Minnesota,” he said. “I love it here. I hope to finish my career here. But as you know when you’re around this business long enough, it is a business and people have to make decisions. I can’t control that. All that I can control is going out to practice and doing everything I can to prepare myself to play well against the Green Bay Packers.”
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- Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.