When murmurs surfaced that the tight-to-the-cap Vikings would struggle to keep tight end Kyle Rudolph around, they were squished fairly quickly by Vikings management.
But those murmurs may soon escalate to chatter. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on Friday that extension talks that would lower Rudolph’s 2019 cap hit broke down. Rudolph, who’s in the final year of his deal, is due $7.5M. The Vikings drafted Alabama tight end Irv Smith two weeks ago.
Which obviously leads to the question of whether the Patriots would be buyers if the Vikings were sellers. Two weeks ago, I was told that a Rudolph deal at that juncture was “highly unlikely.” But that was before this latest news. The Vikings have less than $1M in cap space currently and are going to have to start lopping before they sign rookies.
But the Patriots have now committed themselves to three free agent tight ends – Matt LaCosse, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Benjamin Watson. The 29-year-old Rudolph would seem to be a touch better (at least) than all of them. He’s caught 250 passes in the past four seasons and – at 6-6, 265 – he can move people around in the running game as well.
Between Rob Gronkowski taking his time to retire, which slowed the Patriots pursuit of Jared Cook (signed with New Orleans) to missing out on wide receiver Adam Humphries (signed with Tennessee after Patriots’ late sweetener was rebuffed) to Rudolph possibly becoming available right after Watson was signed, the Patriots have seemingly been in chase mode a few times this offseason.
We’ll see if they join the fray on Rudolph.
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