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Trade Kyle Rudolph? Let’s Not [X-Post from]

Kevin Gendron of Chimes in on the Rudolph News

Note: This article originally appeared on our sister site, and was written by Kevin Gendron, owner of

As the Vikings try to find cap room to sign their draft class, Ian Rapoport reported the first way the Vikings tried to do so:

When the Vikings drafted Smith, I said I would only love the pick if Smith and Rudolph could play together. I am firmly against trading Kyle Rudolph and here’s why:

Smith and Rudolph are Different

Smith and Rudolph are not similar players despite playing the same position. After Smith was drafted, Vikings Director of College Scouting, Jamaal Stephenson called Smith a “move tight end” used to create mismatches, as opposed to the traditional ‘in-line’ tight end that Kyle Rudolph plays.

Rick Spielman’s post-draft press conference expanded on that, saying Smith’s presence has no impact on Rudolph’s status (not that he would have said anything different), calling them “totally two different types of tight ends.” Spielman continued by comparing him to Jordan Reed, triggering reminders of the success that Kirk Cousins had in Washington when he was throwing to both Vernon Davis and Reed.

Rudolph has Been Durable and Solid

After battling injuries in his first four seasons, Rudolph has played all 64 games in the past four years, averaging 63 receptions, 625 yards and 6 TDs per season. Not elite number, but solid production for the tight-end position.

This past year, Rudolph provided a sure-handed safety valve for Cousins. He’s not explosive but he can convert third-downs and forces defenses to respect him in the red zone.

One More Pass Catcher

Diggs and Thielen had minimal help last year, so there was a need to add another playmaker so defenses couldn’t double BOTH of them at the same time. Rudolph is not athletic enough to take that upon himself. Irv Smith is also not strong enough to take that upon himself.

However, if the Vikings were to roll out Smith and Rudolph together, there are four options that will allow the Vikings to create the mismatches Jamaal Stephenson referenced. By going from Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph to Diggs, Thielen and Smith, it’s unlikely the offense improves in 2019, especially considering tight-end is one of the hardest positions to adjust to in the NFL.  Diggs, Thielen, Rudolph and Smith? Now that’s potent.

12 Personnel ‘Base’ Could be Major Advantage

The Vikings struggled to run the ball last year, and a major reason of that is blocking. The team made moves in the draft to solidify the offensive line, but don’t discount the impact that Irv Smith could play on the running game.

In recent years, NFL offenses have transitioned from 12 personnel (2 TEs ; 2 WRs) to play 11 personnel (3 WR ; 1 TE) as the standard formation. As such, defenses countered to put 3 CBs on the field, making ‘nickel’ their base defense (5 DBs). It’s the reason Mackensie Alexander played 54% of snaps last year while Ben Gedeon played 29%. Last year, the Vikings main offensive formation was 11 personnel with Diggs, Thielen, Treadwell and Rudolph playing most snaps.

By adding Irv Smith, you are replacing Treadwell and moving in the opposite direction of the league’s ’11 personnel’ trend. Playing with 12 personnel adds Smith to a formation of Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph, forcing teams to pick their poison. If they play nickel, their small cornerback will be tasked with blocking the bigger Smith, opening a mismatch in the run game, while in base, a linebacker will struggle to keep up with Smith in coverage on passing downs.

But the Cap Space..

Kyle Rudolph is a good player and great leader for this team. If there was no such thing as cap space, there would be no argument, so I understand that moves must be made for the Vikings to remain under this year’s salary cap, and Rudolphs $7.5 million contract would do just that.

With that said, there are other ways to do it, while keeping the team’s aforementioned advantages intact, such as converting Danielle Hunter’s base salary to bonus (For a breakdown, it’s what the Chicago Bears did with Khalil Mack to create cap space).  Linval Joseph and a number of others could be prime ‘restructure’ candidates.

With the offensive struggles this team went through last year, the Vikings cannot get rid of proven commodities.  Irv Smith was drafted to complement to Rudolph, not replace him. Let’s hope we see that happen.

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Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started back in May of 2015 and has talked Vikings online since the advent of the internet, namely on Reddit's /r/MinnesotaVikings section under the username p_U_c_K. He purchased before the 2017-18 season, used to write for and is the host of the purpleJOURNAL Podcast, as well.

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  1. The simple fact is that Rudolph is not worth the money (maxed out in last year of contract. On the field, he is slow, provides no yards after a catch, and is not a good blocker. The idea he is elite as opposed to adequate is wishful thinking by fans. The Vikings need to trade while they can still get something for him and can get a bit of cap space. A more mobile threat will make the offense beter

    1. Straw Man Alert! Straw Man Alert!

      Joe argued that Rudolph has been solid, not “elite,” and I have read virtually no one who has called him elite, at least as an all-around TE.

      As for being not worth the money, he’s produced more catches and TD’s over the last four years than Graham, Olsen and Walker and been paid $17 million, $12 million and $4 million less, respectively, part of that being because of Rudolph’s good health but part of it being the simple fact that Rudolph has been productive, even if last year was a down year when it came to TD’s.

      I’ve seen arguments that Rudolph shuold be paid less than than Vance McDonald, Jack Doyle, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, Nick Boyle and Jesse James, and it’s all so much BS.

      1. He is being paid as if he were elite, not “solid”. He is being paid significantly more than last year as contracts are back loaded (increase with length of time on team). The issue is simple — is he worth the money for one more year? Cherry picked stats are not comforting to anyone who observed Rudolph last season. Low average yards per catch and yards after catch are examples of why the Vikings should check the use-by tag.

  2. Trade or cut talks have been going since the offseason started~This includes the sports media and many on twitter~

    So far every reporter and fan who made these calls were dead wrong~

    Could something happen~

    Sure if you keep throwing things against the wall something will stick sooner and if it happens much much later than they all said~

    As always remember I know just enough to get us all in trouble~

    I am not a scout or a talent agent~Just calling it the way things have fallen~

    Some were saying the same things about Barr and hoped he left~Guess what~He didn’t

    Some said Griffen would be cut or traded~Didn’t happen~

    Some said the same things about Wayne’s and that he would be traded for as little as a 2nd or 3rd round~Didn’t happen~

    Some had Rhodes up for trade~Didn’t happen~

    Some had Rudy traded for a late round pick after the Smith pick~Didn’t happen~

    If the Vikings want to keep Rudy they can do it every easily~