Thursday, May 28, 2015
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kyle rudolph

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the fourth article, focusing on the tight ends.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterback preview hererunning backs are here, and the fullbacks are here.]

In theory, the Vikings have their tight end depth chart pretty much set.  They have the powerful veteran in Kyle Rudolph, the semi-proven backup in Chase Ford, and the journeyman blocker in Rhett Ellison.  They also have some camp fodder in Ryan Otten.

Rudolph just signed a huge deal that runs through 2018 and is highly unlikely to go anywhere.  Ford is entering a contract year, but is inexpensive and likely to be a restricted free agent in 2016, so there is no real reason to actively oust him from the Vikings roster.

Ellison is also fairly cheap, with a 2015 cap hit of $735,146, and appears like a guy the Vikings want to lock up for the long-term.  While unspectacular within the offense, Ellison is a great blocking tight end and solid special teams player.

The Vikings seem highly unlikely to spend heavily on the tight end position this offseason, with actual value more likely to be found in the Draft for a talent worth bringing aboard, but let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

According to Jay Glazer, tight end Kyle Rudolph and the Minnesota Vikings have agreed to a 5-year extension.

Many expected the Vikings to extend Kyle Rudolph but questioned whether it would happen before the season or after. Once more details of the deal are available, we can analyze this move further. As of right now, it looks as though the Vikings have secured one of their best offensive playmakers for years to come. We will keep you updated with additional information as soon as we have it. Congratulations, Kyle!

Update: Well, that was quick. Jay Glazer is now reporting that the deal is 36.5 million / 5 years.

2nd Update: The Vikings have officially announced the contract extension of Kyle Rudolph. The deal is for 5 years and up to 40 million. The base salary is $37.46 million with $19.4 million guaranteed and a $6.5 million signing bonus.

Rudolph’s new deal puts him right with guys like Jason Witten, Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates financially. According to Ian Rapoport with the NFL Network, this makes Rudolph the 5th-highest paid tight end in the NFL.

“I’m extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings,” said Rudolph. “I’ve said all along that I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and, most importantly, I’m excited about where this team is going. I’m looking forward to the 2014 season and helping this organization reach our ultimate goal.”

So, this morning I was doing the dishes and listening to the Purple For The Win podcast (baller life, yo) and I was surprised to hear host Andy Carlson pretty much throw in the towel regarding tight end Chase Ford’s chances of making the final Vikings roster.

Carlson has been championing Ford all offseason long, but he sounds like he’s pretty much conceded that Ford is a goner, and neither of his guests Ted Glover and Di Murphy seemed to disagree.  Ford has a broken foot that will cause him to lose out on time to prove himself to the new coaching staff, and it was also noted by Mike Zimmer that Ford’s tweet about his injury was not something that would be tolerated.

Last season, injuries forced Chase Ford into action as an unheralded rookie, but he made an impression with some notable performances.  That included a five catch performance against Detroit in the season finale.  He ended the season with 11 catches for 133 yards and seven first downs.

So, back to Ford’s current situation: Is he really someone we should dismiss so easily?

For the most part, this is the time of year when “no news is good news” and the Vikings are doing a great job of (knock on wood) staying out of the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.  The lack of TMZ stories about our players can’t be a bad thing.  Training camp is drawing nearer and here is everything going on around the net:

16 games of football, and maybe even a post-season appearance, can change the way we look at the makeup of a roster and the value of an individual player.  With that being said, as I glance towards what drama might be in store for next offseason, Rick Spielman doesn’t appear to have many paramount decisions waiting for him on the horizon.

Most of the current players that are set to see their contracts expire after this season were signed (or re-signed) this offseason to one year deals.  The hope is that they will produce quite nicely and be worthy of another contract next offseason, but they really won’t be priorities until that production actually happens.

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