Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) celebrates a touchdown catch against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Jimmy Graham Verdict’s Impact On Tight End Kyle Rudolph

The recent ruling on franchise tags for pass catching tight ends is one that the Minnesota Vikings have to be watching closely because of their situation with Kyle Rudolph.  If you haven’t been paying attention to what is going on with the situation between the New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham, let’s get you caught up to speed.

Instead of working out a more expensive long-term deal with the NFL’s leader in receiving touchdowns, the New Orleans Saints instead put the franchise tag on Jimmy Graham.  Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham’s agent argued that he should be considered a wide receiver in terms of the tag price because of how often he is asked to be a pass catcher instead of a blocker.  The difference between the two tags for a season is over $5 million for the season.  After the ruling was disputed by the agent, a ruling came down from an arbitrator that because of how he lines up in the offense that he is indeed a tight end and NOT a wide receiver.

Twitter bio for Cleveland Browns pass catcher Jordan Cameron

Twitter bio for Cleveland Browns pass catcher Jordan Cameron

This is bad news for pass catching tight ends who are looking to get paid.  Other successful pass catching tight ends have already come out in support of Jimmy Graham.  Most notably, Jordan Cameron has changed his twitter profile to say that he is now a “pass catcher” instead of a tight end because of the implications of labeling himself in a position that could result in a smaller payday.

The Vikings have to be monitoring this situation very closely.  Kyle Rudolph is entering the final year of his rookie contract and has already gone on record as saying that he wants an extension to stay with the team.  However, if negotiations on a long-term deal stall and fizzle out, Rudolph could find himself in a position very similar to that of Graham.

Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end coach Jimmie Johnson talks with tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Although Kyle Rudolph would have less bargaining leverage because his statistics over his three years with the Vikings don’t compare very well to Jimmy Graham’s, a very good year this season could push him into a higher pay bracket.  If they can’t lock him up before the season, a very awkward situation could happen.

The one aspect of this situation that seems to be getting overlooked is the happiness of the player.  While I’m sure Jimmy Graham loves playing for the Saints and Kyle Rudolph enjoys playing for the Vikings, but putting a tight end franchise tag on a player who feels like they deserve a better situation could be considered a slap in the face to a player who puts up great numbers and helps their team win.

Hopefully, the Vikings and Kyle Rudolph can work something out before a situation like Jimmy Graham’s with the Saints happens.


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Tags: Jimmy Graham Jordan Cameron Kyle Rudoph Minnesota Vikings

  • trinity

    I don’t know about Rudolph, but if Graham is unhappy then that’s his own fault. according to reports, the saints were ready to give him a long term deal. They offered him a deal that would make him the highest paid tight end in football at 10 million a season. he rejected that because he wanted 12 million. So the saints slapped the franchise tag on him, and it was only then that he started that “I’m actually a wide receiver” bullshit. Now he’s back to square one, and worse off than before since the saints are holding all the cards after the ruling now. he brought it on himself.

    • Adam Carlson

      Oh yeah. What a mess.

  • Todd Robinson

    I don’t think there are many players who deserve 12 million per year. I would say Manning, Brady, Rogers Maybe AP, maybe Brees. You’d better be hugely responsible for your teams success to even think about such numbers. Is Graham aware how paying this kind of money can handcuff a team. He has been the best at his position, but no tight-end is worth that kinda money.

    • Bob T

      Yeah I agree. While most of us want a long term deal for Kyle, a pass catching tight end, it’s too much money. What is All Day getting? 11 million I think. Don’t think Rudolph or Graham is worth that.

      • David Mallow

        AP is getting 14, 16 and 17 over the next three years .. Rudolph wouldn’t require this much money to keep around ..this is but this truly is a pointless post…

        • Bob T

          Your right , I should of said IMHO I think it is best to sign Rudolph to a long term deal. I just hope the Vikings don’t give him 10 million a year. The only one on this team right now that might be worth that is Adrian Petterson.

  • Turdd Ferguson

    I’m sorry, but we would never let the Graham situation happen in Minny. For one, we’re not a garbage organization like the Saints. For another, our history shows that we keep young, team player, good character talent on our team.

    (Notice, I had to put team player/good character in there or the Percy Harvin trade would kill my statement)

    • Turdd Ferguson

      But to be fair to the Saints’ organization, their players are dirty, greedy, assholes….so I guess what goes around, comes around.