EAGAN, Minn. - Tight end Kyle Rudolph wants to finish his career with the Minnesota Vikings. If an extension can be ironed out, he just might.
Rudolph confirmed on Wednesday’s second day of organized team activities he has been offered a five-year contract extension, but he has not accepted it. Such an extension, first reported by Pro Football Talk, would put him under contract through the 2024 season, when he would be 35.
Rudolph is on the books to make $7.275 million in 2019, the final year of his contract, but none of it is guaranteed and Minnesota has less salary-cap room than any team in the NFL. The Vikings are hoping to lower Rudolph’s cap number of $7.625 million through an extension that Pro Football Talk reported would make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid tight ends. But the offer on the table apparently is still not yet enticing enough for Rudolph.
“The Vikings, my agent (Brian Murphy), they’re working extremely hard to get something done,” Rudolph said. “And with that being said, there’s plenty of other teams that are interested as well. … We’re in a tough situation. Everybody knows that. That’s why we have the best salary-cap guy in the NFL (in Rob Brzezinski), and I believe I have one of the best agents.”
So how does Rudolph know other teams are interested in possibly trading for him?
“Because that’s what I’ve been told,” he said.
Whatever happens, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer believes Rudolph will be with the team in 2019.
“Because both sides are working towards it and he’s under contract,” Zimmer said.
Rudolph said last week he wanted his situation to be settled “sooner rather than later.”
“I would not anticipate it lingering until training camp,” he said. “And I trust Rob, and I trust Murph. That allows me to not worry about it and come out here and just practice. … It would have been a lot more difficult if I was released in March and looking for a job.”
Wednesday’s session marked the second of 10 voluntary OTAs over a three-week period. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is the only Vikings player not on hand this week, but Rudolph said he never gave a thought to not showing up.
“I could have easily skipped optional practice but that’s not what a leader on this team does,” said Rudolph, one of the team captains in recent seasons. “These guys expect to see me out here each and every day. …. I don’t know what kind of example it would set if I said I wanted to be here and I wasn’t here.”
Rudolph was in New York on Monday to receive the Leadership in Community Award at the Kelly Cares Foundation Irish Eyes Gala for his charity work in the Twin Cities. He took a 6 a.m. flight Tuesday to get back in time for the first day of OTAs.
Rudolph then took the field for the first time alongside tight end Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings selected Smith in the second round of last month’s draft, and have talked about playing him at the same time with Rudolph to create mismatches.
“It’s exciting,” Rudolph said. “It’s something, an element we’ve never had here in my nine years being here. It forces defenses to play with three linebackers, and that allows us to control the game.”
Smith dropped one pass Wednesday, but overall looked solid.
“It’s going to be special,” Smith said of hopefully playing alongside Rudolph. “I’ve just been trying to pick his brain, learn from him, and I feel like we can complement each other very well. It’s going to be a scary offense.”
Count Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins as another hoping Rudolph will stick around.
“I think his future is bright, and he’s got nothing to worry about,” Cousins said.
- Stefon Diggs was the only player on the 90-man roster not present Wednesday as the Vikings ramped up organized team activities at TCO Performance Center. Asked whether there was any concern that Diggs wasn’t in attendance, coach Mike Zimmer tried his best to put an end to any speculation, quickly responding, “No.”
- Questions about the middle of the offensive line were answered in the opening 10 minutes of organized team activities on Wednesday morning when first-round draft pick Garrett Bradbury snapped to Kirk Cousins with former center Pat Elflein lined up to the left of him at guard. “I’m just focusing on left guard,” Elflein said, confirming the position switch. “It feels great. I played there in college. That was always one of my things. Just being able to play both positions.”