Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph is heading toward a rude awakening

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Kyle Rudolph /

This offseason, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to have their backs against the wall when it comes to the salary cap. Many expect the salary cap to decrease by more than $15 million and if this happens, then the Vikings will need to part ways with some of their most expensive players this year.

When choosing who to get rid of, Minnesota will likely base their decisions on a player’s age and their recent level of production. With this in mind, some of the Vikings’ salary cap casualties this offseason could include Riley Reiff, Kyle Rudolph, Shamar Stephen, and Anthony Barr.

Minnesota could also explore ways to keep some of these potential cuts by approaching them about a possible contract restructure. However, don’t tell this to Rudolph as he recently revealed that he won’t be agreeing to any sort of pay cut this year.

Kyle Rudolph wants to remain with the Minnesota Vikings, but only on his terms

We shared some comments the other day from Rudolph’s recent appearance on the “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” podcast when he declared that he’s “worth every dime of (his) contract.” The veteran tight end has, unsurprisingly, received a bit of pushback from the Vikings fan base following his declaration of his worth.

Some don’t believe Rudolph is worth the $9.45 million he’s currently scheduled to count against Minnesota’s salary cap in 2021. This is fair criticism of a guy in Rudolph who has never finished a season with more than 900 receiving yards. Even during the 2016 campaign when he hauled in 83 passes, the Vikings tight end still only managed to gain a total of 840 yards.

Based on Rudolph’s comments and his overall tone during his interview with Leber, it sounds like he thinks he’s actually deserving of having the fourth-highest cap hit among tight ends in the NFL next season. But he’s not, and his failure to recognize this could make it difficult for Rudolph to remain with Minnesota this year.

The veteran tight end has seen his numbers dip during the past two seasons and he says it’s because he’s not being utilized enough in the team’s offense. But even when Rudolph did manage to get his hands on a ball, he didn’t do much after hauling in the pass.

Of the tight ends that have played in at least 30 games and accumulated at least 60 catches since 2017, Rudolph has the 37th-highest yards per reception average. For someone who regards himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL right now, one would think this average would be closer to the top of the list with guys like Travis Kelce and George Kittle.

Now, Rudolph did also state during his recent interview that he has no desire to play for any other team than the Vikings. But if the tight end doesn’t agree to any sort of pay reduction this offseason, then his future in Minnesota could be coming to a close sooner than later.