Vikings between rock and a hard place with Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings. (Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings. (Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Minnesota Vikings and longtime tight end Kyle Rudolph could be heading towards a divorce in 2021.

Kyle Rudolph has spent his entire 10-year NFL career out of Notre Dame with the Minnesota Vikings. However, the two-time Pro Bowl tight end saw his role diminished in the Vikings offense a season ago. He only had 28 catches for 334 yards and one receiving touchdown. Could he be on the way out of the Twin Cities as a Vikings’ cap casualty?

Rudolph said on the Unrestricted with Ben Leber Podcast that he is less than thrilled with his usage in the last two seasons. He has been used more as a blocking tight end in his 30s, seeing more of his usual passes go in the direction of Irv Smith. Rudolph feels he can be a productive receiving tight end again, but he is not willing to take a pay cut if he has the same role from 2020.

There is a strong possibility Kyle Rudolph has played his last snap for the Vikings

If the Vikings were to let Rudolph go before June 1, it would save them $5 million against the salary cap, but $4.4 million of that would be seen as dead money. Smith is several years younger than Rudolph and very much in his prime. Rudolph can still be a productive player in this league, but probably will not be able to command the money he is making now in his role with the Vikings.

dark. Next. The perfect Dak Prescott/Dallas Cowboys contract exists

What may have contributed to Rudolph’s down season was that he missed four games. He had not missed a game since 2014 prior to last year. It led to him setting a career-worst with only one touchdown catch. While the yardage is not there any more, a healthy Rudolph should have no problem hauling in five red-zone targets for touchdowns. He just may have to do that elsewhere.

Rudolph could end up being a cap casualty for the Vikings before they head into training camp.