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Vikings place Kyle Rudolph on injured reserve

Wild Card Round - Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 05: Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings makes the game-winning touchdown reception against P.J. Williams #26 of the New Orleans Saints during overtime in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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After 10 seasons in Minnesota, it’s possible that tight end Kyle Rudolph has played his last game with the Vikings.

The Vikings have placed Rudolph on injured reserve, due to a foot injury that has caused him to miss the last three games. The Vikings end their 2020 season on Sunday, against the Lions.

Rudolph, a second-round pick in 2011, has 453 career receptions, 4,458 receiving yards, and 48 touchdowns. He scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Saints in a 2019 wild-card playoff game.

Signed through 2023, Rudolph has a 2021 base salary of $7.65 million. Cutting or trading Rudolph would entail $4.35 million in total cap charges. Releasing him with a post-June 1 designation would drop the 2021 cap hit to $1.45 million.

The salary cap for 2021 (which could drop as low as $175 million) becomes one of the biggest factors in whether to keep Rudolph, who has made it clear that he wants to finish his career in Minnesota. He has become a pillar of the community, and perhaps he’d work with the Vikings to create a more palatable cap number, even if it means taking less.

The Vikings may need to meet him somewhere in the middle, however, resisting the urge to squeeze him simply because they know he wants to stay. From time to time, teams will drive a harder bargain regarding a player who genuinely wants to remain where he is, using that against him and getting him to take less than he’s objectively worth (given the presence of Irv Smith, Jr.). However the Vikings assess him, it should be based on his current worth and not some sort of guessing game/game of chicken aimed at getting him for as little as possible.