4 Vikings players who could be benched after the bye week

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings /

Kyle Rudolph – TE

Kyle Rudolph is playing well overall. But if things continue as they are then the Minnesota Vikings will undoubtedly begin looking to the future.

This might mean the tight end is benched or sees his role in the lineup diminished. Rudolph might not be around the Vikings beyond this season due to their impending salary-cap constraints, with Irv Smith Jr. waiting in the wings as the heir apparent.

There is a lot to like about the skills that Smith Jr. brings to the table. Big things were expected of the former Alabama standout after an encouraging rookie campaign, but he has been a relative afterthought in the passing game with just 16 targets through six games.

Smith Jr. did come up with some nice catches in Minnesota’s defeat against the Falcons. This might see the player become more involved following the bye week, which would spell bad news for the two-time Pro Bowler.

Rudolph’s targets have also come down a considerable amount this season, which doesn’t really justify the $7.65 million he is due to make in 2021. Finding a trade partner for a veteran with three years remaining on his contract might be difficult and cutting him altogether is not out of the realms of possibility.