Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph has been released by the Minnesota Vikings. After spending a decade with the team, the 31-year-old will now be on the free agent market for the first time in his career.
The Vikings now get to move on to 2019 second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. The Alabama product saw his touchdown production increase, but not much else in his second season. Now he’ll have an opportunity to become more of a focal point in the offense.
But what’s next for Rudolph?
In his 10-year career, he’s hauled in 453 catches for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns. His skills have diminished, but Rudolph can still provide quality reps at the position. He’s still able to use that 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame to be a red zone threat.
Here are five potential landing spots for the 2011 second-rounder out of Notre Dame:
1. Arizona Cardinals
At this point, why not? The Cardinals aren’t top-shelf Super Bowl contenders, but they’re in the mix. J.J. Watt heading to Arizona was certainly a quality move though, and the offense could use another tight end to pair with Maxx Williams.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
We don’t know whether Hunter Henry will be back in Los Angeles. If he chooses to leave in free agency, then that void will need to be addressed. Rudolph could be a cost-saving option that would give Justin Herbert a somewhat reliable weapon in the red zone.
3. New England Patriots
Anytime a quality, veteran tight end hits the market, the Patriots are going to come up. It’s been awhile since the days of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez sharing the load, but we still view New England as a tight end friendly team. It isn’t as attractive of an option as it once was with Tom Brady though.
4. Chicago Bears
The Bears spent a second-round pick of their own on a Notre Dame tight end last April. The future of the position rests with Cole Kmet. But maybe Rudolph can be a more affordable TE2 option than Jimmy Graham, who has a $10 million cap hit in 2021.
5. Buffalo Bills
If Rudolph wants to go ring chasing while still contributing, Buffalo might be the best place to do that. Josh Allen is emerging as one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, and there are other weapons that will keep any and all pressure off Rudolph. Dawson Knox is decent, but this is an opportunity for an upgrade.
Honorable mentions: Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.