We’re not hearing a ton of players expressing their desire to play for the New England Patriots these days, but that’s exactly what recently released, two-time Pro-Bowler, Kyle Rudolph did this week.
According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, Rudolph would be interested in signing with the Patriots if there is interest from Foxborough.
As Kyed mentioned in his tweet, the Patriots attempted to acquire Randolph two years ago but failed. Rudolph was a salary-cap casualty when the Minnesota Vikings, the only team he’s played for during his 10-year career, released him.
The Patriots have a clear need in the passing game, and more specifically, the team’s tight end production has been horrendous. Could there be a fit?
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Pros to Signing Rudolph
Rudolph is as solid of a locker room presence as you’ll find in the NFL. He has the kind of experience that coaches value.
Rudolph has never been a burner on the field, but he does run solid routes and has good hands. He has just one drop in the last three seasons. In addition to what he can add in the passing game, the Patriots might be mostly attracted to his ability to pass block.
Surely the Patriots need weapons in the passing game. However, if New England chose to go with max-protect looks, Randolph has shown prowess for protecting his quarterback in these situations. In 2020, Rudolph ranked 12th among tight ends in this category according to Pro Football Focus.
Quite honestly, when you look at what Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene did last year for the Patriots at tight end, Rudolph is almost surely an upgrade. Asiasi and Keene were both drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, so they still have some upside.
However, signing a player like Rudolph could serve as some insurance the team will get more production out of an important position.
Perhaps more than anything, there is something to be said for a player of Rudolph’s caliber and influence to say he wants to play for your organization. Signing Rudolph could position New England as a more attractive landing spot for other free agents.
Cons to Signing Rudolph
Rudolph has some miles on him.
He’s been very durable missing just four games in the last seven seasons, and all of those absences came in 2020. Rudolph will turn 32 during the 2021 season, and it stands to reason he could be headed for a steep decline or a year where he is heavily compromised by injury.
Rudolph would essentially take snaps away from Asiasi, Keene, and any tight end the Patriots draft. While I wouldn’t expect Rudolph’s contract demands to break the bank, Bill Belichick has to assess whether the free-agent dollars could be better spent on another position while allowing the two young tight ends to develop.
This is just one of many decisions that will shape the Patriots’ offense in what they hope will be a resurgent 2021 season.
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