The Rudolph Sweepstakes Intensifies
A few weeks ago, Kyle Rudolph joined Paul Allen on KFAN, and the two had a lengthy conversation about a reunion with the Vikings. Rudolph said he’s open to it and wants to return to the organization. His family still lives in Minnesota, so it’s more than ‘just’ football for him. It’s personal.
Now, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reinforced the rumors with a tweet.
The tweet, especially the part “interest from multiple teams” and the following name-dropping of the Vikings, implies that the Vikings are interested in Rudolph as well. The Buccaneers make sense for the veteran tight end. Rob Gronkowski, Brady’s favorite target in the last decade, retired and shut the door on a second possible comeback.
Buccaneers and Vikings Both Make Sense
If Tom Brady calls, it’s hard to say no. Rudolph told Paul Allen that the Super Bowl ring is his goal, and Brady is always a good bet to win one in any given year. His role could also be bigger than his role on the Vikings because of Gronk’s gap.
In Minnesota, roles would be reversed between Irv Smith and Rudolph. In the last two seasons of the veteran with the Vikings, Smith backed Rudolph up. Now, it would be the opposite. Smith is the unquestioned starter, and Rudolph could serve as a TE2.
That job would come without much competition, as Johnny Mundt, Ben Ellefson, and Nick Muse all resemble a third tight end. Mundt is a free agent signing and played for the Rams in 2021 before a torn ACL ended his season prematurely. He was primarily a blocking tight end. However, he recently said he is a pass catcher, and the Rams just didn’t use him that way. Either way, he’s unproven in the role of a receiver. Ben Ellefson, on the other hand, is a sensational blocker and doesn’t possess many receiving skills. Nick Muse was Adofo-Mensah’s seventh-round pick.
A reunion makes sense, considering the depth behind Smith Jr. The former Alabama tight end is a talented player, but it didn’t translate to the field so far in his career. In his three seasons, Smith recorded 676 yards and seven touchdowns. The Vikings had to play without him in the 2021 season as he recovered from meniscus surgery. Tyler Conklin did a solid job replacing him, but the explosiveness from Smith could’ve helped the team to clinch a postseason spot.
Rudolph would serve as insurance for Smith, in case he suffers another injury, and he could replace him at times to give him a breather. Rudolph was never explosive but has a great pair of hands and catches everything thrown in his direction. He is also a threat in the red zone because of his 6´6″ frame and improved as a blocker in recent years.
Decision Before Camp
Rudolph played his full career for the Vikings before the team released him last year. The former Notre Dame star played 10 seasons for the purple team. 4,488 receiving yards and 48 touchdowns are his current numbers in the Vikings record books. He wants to add some statistics but if the two sides come together and agree on a deal has to be seen in the upcoming days. The Vikings veterans have to report to training camp on July 26th. If the Vikings and Rudolph agree on a deal, it will be before that day.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt