After selecting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings were reportedly considering trading their long-time starter at tight end, Kyle Rudolph. And when Rudolph's name was mentioned on the open market, teams naturally connected him to the New England Patriots.
The Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement, and the veteran Rudolph would certainly qualify as a solid replacement. There were reports that the Patriots discussed Rudolph with the Vikings, but nothing ever came of that. And now, it seems that Rudolph and the Vikings are determined to make things work.
"Yeah, no question," Rudolph said to Scott Hanson on NFL Total Access. "Throughout all of this, that's been the easiest thing. We want to be in Minnesota. We want to make sure we exhaust every possible option to make sure that we stay in Minnesota.
"With that being said, the Vikings feel the same way. They want to keep me in Minnesota. They want me to finish my career in Minnesota. So we're both on the same side of things. It's just a matter of finding a way to get it done within the salary cap."
This further quashes the notion that Rudolph could come to New England. The chances were already slim after the team signed Ben Watson to a deal and after the Vikings and Rudolph reportedly were working on an extension, so this isn't much of a surprise.
That said, with Watson suspended for the first four games of the season, the Patriots could have struck up a renewed interest in negotiations had Rudolph still been available. Instead, it seems that they will roll with what they have at the position. Currently, that includes Watson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, and Andrew Beck.
Jakob Johnson is also currently on the roster, but as part of the NFL's International Pathway's Program, the Patriots can stash him in a special 11th spot on the practice squad for the 2019 campaign. Expect Bill Belichick to take advantage of that unless Johnson has a terrific showing during the offseason.
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