11 days to training camp, Kyle Rudolph open to Vikings reunion

Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph left the Minnesota Vikings 16 months ago for a stoppage with the New York Giants. Now, the longtime Vikings tight end is open to a reunion with the team that drafted him 11 years ago.

About three weeks ago Rudolph said KFANit’s Paul Allen it was interested in returning to the Vikings. And on Monday, Rodolphe reiterated this opinion at FOX9 in Minneapolis.

On the prospect of joining the Vikings, Rudolph said:

“It would certainly interest me. This is our home, it would definitely make life much easier for my wife and four children to stay in the house we live in here. This place is extremely special to us, this organization is special to us. To be able to come back and have the opportunity to play there again and fight for the only goal I’ve ever achieved as a Viking, to win a championship, that would be great. But we will see.

– Kyle Rudploph

December 5, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Rudolph, 32, was underused in the Giants’ disappointing offense in 2021 and was not selected for a sequel. A possible relationship with the Kevin O’Connell version of the Vikings would land Rudolph a TE2 job behind Irv Smith Jr., who supported Rudolph for two years in 2019 and 2020.

In all-time tight end rankings for the Vikings, Rudolph ranks second (4,488 yards) to Steve Jordan (6,307 yards). His 48 touchdowns from a tight end are the highest in Vikings history. Among all pass catchers in franchise history, including wide receivers and running backs, Rudolph ranks 10th in receiving yards and sixth in receiving touchdowns.

2022 Vikings could use Rudolph, nostalgia be damned. New general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is obviously banking on good health for the aforementioned Smith Jr. for 2022, as the TE depth players under the former Alabama pupil are unproven.

Here is the current TE configuration of the Vikings:

TE1: Irv Smith Jr.
TE2: Johnny Mundt
TE3: Ben Ellefson
TE4: Zach Davidson
TE5: Nick Muse

January 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

If added to the roster, Rudolph would theoretically replace Tyler Conklin, who “created” the Vikings’ meager TE depth chart in the first place. Conklin joined the New York Jets in free agency on a lucrative contract.

Rudolph would be an immediate upgrade to Mundt, Ellefson, Davidson or Muse – unless one of those men is sitting on a Conklin-type breakout. In that regard, Rudolph’s chatter at Vikings is good for the depth of 2022, not a plea for the sentimental tear ducts of Vikings fans.

After Adofo-Mensah finally signs rookies Andrew Booth and Ed Ingram, who are the two unsigned rookies in early July, the Vikings will have about $9 million in cap space — more than enough to onboard Rudolph.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikesNow. He host a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, airing every Wednesday with Raun Saw and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).

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