The Minnesota Vikings are in quite the situation right now. I don’t think anyone is questioning the fact that they have a roster and the coaching staff that can compete for a Super Bowl. However, after signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a 3 year, $84 million contract in the 2018 offseason, the Vikings seemingly took a step back in 2018. Now, maybe Cousins will improve this year, but making sure he has the proper tools to succeed will be a priority.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph has been a fan favorite during his time with the Vikings. In 8 years with the team, 6’6” tight end has amassed 386 receptions, 3,787 yards (9.8 avg), and 41 touchdowns. Minnesota took Alabama tight end Irv Smith, Jr. in the second round of the 2019 draft, and there has since been speculation that Rudolph could be traded if he will not take a pay cut, which he has been outspoken about not doing. With a trade likely to happen sooner rather than later, here are five teams that could use Rudolph’s services.
The Bills did sign speedy tight end Tyler Kroft to a deal in free agency, but he recently broke his foot and will need surgery. Behind Kroft, there is no proven talent at the tight end position currently on Buffalo’s roster. Trading for Rudolph could help the Bills out in multiple ways. For one, they would get a big, reliable target for developing quarterback Josh Allen. And at 6’6”, 265 lbs., he has the size to be an effective blocker. As Buffalo’s roster stands now, there is no proven target who can be a dominant force in the red zone and the middle of the field, and Rudolph could be that guy for Allen and the Bills offense.
New York Jets
Ah, another AFC East team with a young quarterback. “Interim” general manager Adam Gase has already made it known that he likes to make transactions, and Rudolph could be a great player to help Gase develop second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. While Chris Herndon is a solid tight end, Rudolph could help shore up Darnold’s protection when asked to, and could also be a reliable receiving threat for Gase’s offense. Of course, Gase may want to draft and develop his own players, but I bet the Jets are looking into a Rudolph trade.
Greg Olsen, although a great player, is oft-injured and will probably be in a retirement home sometime soon. After dealing without him for the past couple of seasons, is offensive coordinator Norv Turner really going to risk another season without a reliable tight end for Cam Newton/Will Grier? With the size and receiving ability to excel as both a pass catcher and blocker, he could help Christian McCaffrey by taking care of edge defenders, he can help Cam Newton stay upright and healthy, and he can provide a safety blanket for whoever it is will be under center for the Panthers this season. I’m sure Carolina isn’t going to bank on backup Ian Thomas being a star should Olsen get hurt again, and Rudolph is a more-than-capable succession plan.
Deshaun Watson has got to get some blocking help. It was almost like he spent more time on the ground than he did in the pocket last season. And after the retirement of C.J. Fiedorowicz, Watson is left without a proven tight end. Rudolph is the perfect man for the job. He can do it all, and Watson needs a dump-off option as his pass protection still looks a little spotty this year. The Texans can’t afford another major injury to Watson. Their future depends on it.
The hiring of Kliff Kingsbury was questionable. Even the drafting of Kyler Murray was questionable. But through all this, the Cardinals still need to add playmakers on the offensive side of the ball to help Kyler develop and for the Kingsbury offense to reach new heights.