2018 was supposed to be a big year for Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. Although his numbers took a small dip from 2016 (83 catches, 840 yards, seven touchdowns) to 2017 (57 catches, 532 yards, eight touchdowns), John DeFilippo’s offense was expected to elevate the veteran tight end in the same way that he had Jordan Cameron during his previous offensive coordinator stint with the Cleveland Browns in 2015.
Things started well when Rudolph caught seven passes for 72 yards against Green Bay in Week 2, but the Notre Dame product wasn’t heard from again (and more shockingly, he didn’t find the end zone) until Week 16 at Detroit (nine catches, 122 yards, two scores).
As Rudolph struggled, fifth-round pick Tyler Conklin had just five catches for 77 yards in his rookie year and he didn’t even see a target from Week 4 to Week 14. For a guy supposed to fill the need for an athletic tight end, Conklin didn’t come close to fitting the bill.
With David Morgan being what he is (an excellent blocker that doesn’t contribute much in the passing game), it may be time to think about adding an upgrade at the position. Either Noah Fant or Irv Smith Jr. would be nice targets for the Vikings next season.
But more than likely Rudolph will stay in Minnesota on a restructured deal and he’ll need to produce better in 2019.