NFC North Rival Whispered as Landing Spot for Kyle Rudolph
With the NFL Draft in the rearview, focus shifts back to free agency as several notable players are unsigned through early May.
Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Landon Collins, Akiem Hicks, J.C. Tretter, Joe Haden, Ndamukong Suh, and others are available on the open market.
Kyle Rudolph, a tight end for the Vikings spanning 10 seasons, is also free to sign anywhere. In 10 years with Minnesota, Rudolph tallied the second-most receiving yards by a tight end in Vikings history before trekking to the New York Giants in 2021. There, he was targeted 39 times in the Giants offense, accruing 257 receiving yards and a touchdown.
But New York cut ties with Rudolph this offseason, placing the Notre Dame alumnus on the TE free-agent market with others like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Eric Ebron.
And according to Bleacher Report, the Green Bay Packers are a team to watch for Rudolph’s services. In an analysis of 10 free agents who could fill roster holes, Rudolph was speculated as a mini-solution for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Michelle Bruton of Bleacher Report explained the Rudolph-Packers theory, “The Packers and their rivals to the west frequently sign each other’s former players; in this case, Green Bay has had a front-row seat to scouting the 32-year-old for years, and his knowledge of the Minnesota Vikings’ offense certainly wouldn’t hurt to have.”
While obviously possible, Rudolph would theoretically join a TE group already comprised of Robert Tonyan, Mercedes Lewis, and Josiah Deguara. And that’s an even more crowded house for Rudolph than the 2021 Giants.
Rudolph’s top skills include hands and blocking, so he should be able to remain in the league for a couple of more years. He’s ultra-reliable in the redzone, one of the Vikings favorite targets from the 20-yardline-and-in for multiple seasons.
Interestingly, the Vikings actually have a slimmer TE depth chart than the Packers, showcasing Irv Smith Jr., Johnny Mundt, Zach Davidson, and rookie Nick Muse. On the whole, though, a reunion for Rudolph in Minnesota is unlikely as the team has a new general manager and head coach. In years past, former players frequently returned to Minnesota after hiatuses elsewhere. That trend is likely kaput with the new regime.
Rudolph will turn 33 this November. He ranks 44th in NFL history for receiving yards by a tight end, according to Stathead.com.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).