The Redskins are on the hook to spend nearly $18 million at the tight end position. That's the highest spending in the NFL at the position group, and the money allocated to tight end will account for nearly 10 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.
Jordan Reed is slated for almost $10 million and Vernon Davis will make more than $6 million. That's two very high priced players at the tight end position. Of the top 20 salaries for tight ends, two of them are on the Redskins.
So as news that Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph might like a trade, and Redskins fans wonder if he could land in Washington, just follow the money.
Rudolph is owed $7.5 million after June 1, and the Redskins only have about $10 million left in cap space. The team will need some money during the season to sign players as injuries inevitably pop up, and Washington still has to agree to terms with first-round pick Montez Sweat and third-rounder Terry McLaurin.
Put simply: The Redskins cannot afford Rudolph.
Not to mention, why would Washington move an asset to acquire Rudolph when the Vikings will probably have to release him next month? That's the reality of the situation.
Looking at Minnesota's 2019 salary cap, held hostage by a $29 million salary for QB Kirk Cousins, the Vikings seem highly unlikely to keep Rudolph at $7.5 million. None of that money is guaranteed, and the team can release him after June 1 with no cap penalty. Why send the Vikes a draft pick now? Wait a few weeks and Rudolph will likely be available.
Rudolph has been very clear that he is unwilling to take a pay cut, rightfully, and that will probably lead to his release. The player won't mind as it means another crack at free agency.
Could Washington make a run at Rudolph as a free agent? Maybe, but the 'Skins would have to shed salary to do it. Perhaps the 29-year-old Rudolph makes more sense than 35-year-old Vernon Davis, but that would also come down to money. Washington could release Davis post June 1 too.
Rudolph is a very good player, a more capable blocker than Reed or Davis, but that's not saying an awful lot. Rudolph's not a mauler. Pro Football Focus graded him as more than -10 as a run blocker averaged out over the last two seasons. And while he has been very durable and productive on the field, Rudolph hasn't missed a game since 2014, does Washington really need to add a tight end that will turn 30 this fall?
Could Rudolph help the Redskins? Certainly. Over the last three seasons, he's had at least 57 catches and totaled 19 touchdowns.
Does Washington need to trade for Rudolph? Probably not.
And given their current spending at tight end, can Washington afford Rudolph's current contract? Definitely not.
Minnesota is barely squeezing in under the 2019 salary cap, with just about $1 million left in space. The Vikings will need more than that to get through the season.
If Washington really wants Rudolph, they can probably sign him next month without giving up a draft pick. Remember, the team already lost its second-round pick in 2020 to acquire Sweat, and after signing Landon Collins as a free agent, the NFL's compensatory formula won't heavily tilt in the Skins favor next offseason.
There is an argument that trading for Rudolph could be cheaper than going after him in free agency, where other teams would surely be interested. Keep in mind too, however, that Bruce Allen likes to shop in the latter stages of free agency, and generally is able to make the money work. He did with Josh Norman and DeSean Jackson.
Patience is a virtue. It worked in the draft when the Redskins waited until the 15th pick and still got QB Dwayne Haskins. It could work again with Rudolph, if the 'Skins even want the tight end.
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