MANKATO – The Vikings are making a sizable investment in Kyle Rudolph, banking that the 24-year-old soon will become one of the NFL’s best tight ends.
The Vikings on Sunday night signed Rudolph to a five-year contract extension that makes him one of the NFL’s highest paid players at his position.
The $36.5 million contract includes $19.4 million guaranteed, including all of his 2014 base salary, according to a league source. The maximum value of the deal is $40 million.
“I’m extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings,” Rudolph said in a statement. “I’ve said all along I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and, most importantly, I’m excited about where this team is going. I’m looking forward to the 2014 season and helping this organization reach our ultimate goal.”
Rudolph caught 109 passes for 1,055 yards and 15 touchdowns his first three NFL seasons. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012 after scoring nine touchdowns and was named the MVP of that all-star game.
But he missed the final eight games of the 2013 season because of a fractured left foot, finishing with 30 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
Earlier this offseason, Rudolph, a second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2011, expressed an interest in remaining with the Vikings long term. But talks between the two sides had been quiet before picking up recently.
“I’m very excited to get this extension done with Kyle,” General Manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “We drafted him, he’s done a tremendous job since he’s been here. Our whole focus on moving forward in this organization is to draft our players, develop them and keep them here. He’s one of our young guys who is going to be a building block as we go forward in the future and just very excited to get this behind us so we can look forward to seeing him produce over the coming years.”