The Rudolph Reunion Chatter Was Inevitable, and It’s Here.
The Minnesota Vikings should not entertain onboarding Kyle Rudolph to the 2022 roster merely because he was with the franchise for 10 years or because you have the jersey in your closet. Conversely, Minnesota curiously doesn’t employ a tried-and-true TE2, and that alone is reason for the exploration of a reunion.
Rudolph told Paul Allen from KFAN on Tuesday that he is indeed interested in returning to the Vikings after a one-year stint with the New York Giants. Allen asked Rudolph if he was intrigued by rejoining the Vikings, and the tight end replied, “Absolutely. I said it when we left here that Minnesota is always home. That’s never been brought to my attention more than when we came back from New Jersey after last season.”
Generally speaking, player reunions are fun, but this one would have more meat on the bone. Let’s face it. Minnesota considers itself a playoff contender for 2022, for better or worse, and rosters a TE2 named Johnny Mundt. Nobody knows if Mundt is any good.
And the Vikings experienced the value of a productive TE2 in 2021 when Irv Smith Jr. was lost for the season to a torn meniscus. Tyler Conklin stepped in for Smith Jr, performed admirably, and parlayed that performance into a lucrative contract with the other New York team, the Jets.
If Smith Jr. goes down again this summer, the Vikings will pivot to Mundt with best-laid plans. Otherwise, they’d explore free agency for veterans like Eric Ebron, Jimmy Graham, or — you guessed it — Rudolph.
Rudolph is 32 years old and was born on the day the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. He’s certainly on the back nine of his career, but his skillset will enable him to play a little longer than the median. Rudolph’s hands are his top quality, snagging balls out of the air with ease, especially in the redzone. The Vikings can put that to use in 2022. Hell, Kirk Cousins has already done it in 2018, 2019, and 2020, connecting with Rudolph 11 times for scores. Together, the two walked off the New Orleans Saints in the 2019 playoffs, which is incidentally the last time Minnesota won a playoff game or even had a winning record.
Adding Rudolph to the roster wouldn’t be expensive, and the Vikings have about $11 million in cap space. They might be evaluating that lump of cash for a relationship with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who has reportedly chatted with the Vikings, according to Tyler Dragon of USA Today. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could both — sign Suh and Rudolph if he so desired.
VikingsTerritory doesn’t typically pound the table for “reunions with former players,” as the fan community does enough of that for a full buffet. Yet, re-upping with Rudolph checks out per value, role, and need.
Rudolph is affordable, the Vikings need a TE2 if Mundt is not Conklinesque, and the Notre Dame alumnus “wants to be here.”
That’s a lot of boxes checked for a 32-year-old tight end drafted by the team in 2011.
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).