A report Friday afternoon from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport strengthened speculation about a potential Kyle Rudolph trade that had already been rumored before and during the NFL Draft.
The #Vikings had held active extension talks with veteran TE Kyle Rudolph, but those broke off this morning, sources say. With Minnesota drafting TE Irv Smith and Rudolph due $7.5M, this development could lead to a trade elsewhere. There is interest around the NFL.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 10, 2019
The longtime Vikings tight end told reporters on April 16 that he would be willing to restructure his contract in a way that would help the team’s salary cap situation. As it stands presently, the Vikings don’t have enough money to sign first-round pick Garrett Bradbury.
But based on Rapoport’s tweet, the stalled negotiations could signal an impasse between the organization and their former second-round pick. Rudolph’s salary counts $7.625 million against the cap this year, and new second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. could be in line to take Rudolph’s starting role, even though general manager Rick Spielman said during draft weekend the team believed the two could co-exist.
“Kyle Rudolph is here,” Spielman said. “Two different styles, what Kyle does and what Irv can do. Just totally two different types of tight ends.”
If the Vikings opt to trade Rudolph, here are three clubs that might be interested.
(Note: New England would have been on this list, but they signed Benjamin Watson out of retirement on Thursday.)
Flush with cap space and still trying to surround Derek Carr with weapons, the Oakland Raiders are looking to replace last year’s top tight end Jared Cook, who left for the New Orleans Saints in free agency.
The Raiders brought in Luke Willson from Detroit and drafted Foster Moreau in the fourth round, but Willson has primarily been a backup for the duration of his career, and Moreau isn’t likely to be an instant producer after a relatively quiet college career at LSU as a pass catcher.
Oakland is sitting on an extra first-round pick and an extra third in 2020 from the Khalil Mack trade. They may be willing to part with that third-round pick for an impact tight end.
Nick Vannett, Will Dissly and Ed Dickson were the team’s top three tight ends a year ago, and all return, but considering they combined for just 568 yards, there is room to improve. Plus, the Seahawks are losing a huge chunk of receiving offense with the release of Doug Baldwin due to injury.
The Vikings have never been shy about negotiating with the Seahawks, and Seattle has an extra second-round pick in 2020.
The Austin Seferian-Jenkins acquisition didn’t work out last year, which made James O’Shaughnessy their highest producing tight end in 2018. The Jaguars signed the injury-prone Geoff Swaim and drafted Josh Oliver in the third round to help fill the void, but a year of Rudolph would still be an upgrade.
Jacksonville has its full complement of picks in 2020.