Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph wants to know: Is he staying or going?
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Tight end Kyle Rudolph said Monday, May 13, he hopes to remain with the Vikings, and wants an answer soon on whether or not he will.
The Vikings have less salary-cap room than any team in the NFL, and need to clear more to sign first-round pick Garrett Bradbury. Rudolph has a salary-cap number of $7.625 million for 2019 and is entering the final year of his contract.
One answer for the Vikings would be to trade Rudolph, 29, and his contract.
“My family, myself, we want to be here and we’re going to do everything we can to be here,’’ Rudolph said Monday. “If the alternative happens and we do get traded, change happens. … Obviously, that’s not what we’re hoping for. … This is where I want to finish my career."
Speaking from the Mike Zimmer Golf Classic at the Bearpath Golf and Country Club in Eden Prairie, Rudolph added that one way or another, he wants an answer "sooner rather than later."
Zimmer, Minnesota’s head coach for the past five of Rudolph’s eight NFL seasons, said his charity tournament was not the proper place for an in-depth discussion about Rudolph. He did, however, touch upon the tight end’s situation.
“I've had conversations with Kyle and, quite honestly, I really love all my players,’’ Zimmer said. “We expect Kyle to be here, but sometimes business gets in the way.''
Minnesota selected tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft. The Vikings have talked about playing Rudolph and Smith together, but financial implications could make that difficult.
The Vikings have $738,054 of cap room and need to sign Bradbury to a deal with a 2019 cap number of $2.342 million. Considering Bradbury will displace a player in the top 51 of salaries making about $570,000, the Vikings must clear a little more than $1 million to sign the offensive lineman from N.C. State.
The Vikings could make other moves to sign Bradbury, but they might need to let go of Rudolph — or significantly reduce his cap number — to make other roster moves, such as possibly signing cornerback Trae Waynes to an extension.
Rudolph has no remaining guaranteed money in his contract and has said recently he's open to negotiating a new extension that would drop his cap number. He said talks between agent Brian Murphy and the Vikings began “recently” and that he hopes they continue.
“We’re in a tough situation as a team," Rudolph said. “You can’t keep everybody, you can’t pay everybody."
Rudolph commended Murphy, general manager Rick Spielman and executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski for working hard on the situation. Still, he doesn't want it to linger.
“I don’t want to be dealing with this come (organized team activities), minicamp, training camp," Rudolph said. “So, the sooner the better, and I think that’s best for both parties. The Vikings want clarity. I think we want clarity. ...
"Obviously, it’s a difficult situation, so there’s a lot of complex things that go into it. That takes time. It’s not an easy (fix) — ‘They like me, I like them. We want to stay here.’ That’s not the way it works.’’
Organized team activities begin May 21 but the Vikings don’t necessarily need to make cap-related moves by then. Bradbury is participating in spring drills under an injury protection agreement, and it’s possible he might not sign his contract until just before the start of training camp in late July.
Rudolph said he worked out Monday with Smith for the first time and agrees there is room in the offense for both tight ends.
“I had talked to Rick about it, and I’m completely on board with the philosophy of you have to take the best player, and he was the best player available at that time," Rudolph said. “I think he can help our offense. The term mismatch gets thrown around a lot."
Rudolph has made two Pro Bowls since arriving in Minnesota in 2011. He is heavily involved in community work and has been the Vikings Man of the Year the past two seasons.
“There’s a lot of good guys in this league, and unfortunately being a good guy can’t outweigh business decisions that have to be made, and I understand that," he said. “I would certainly hope they don’t just keep me here because I’m a good guy and I do good things in the community. I would like to think they want to keep me because I’m a good football player."