Brian Murphy, the agent representing Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, took to Instagram on Saturday to defend his client amid speculation about Rudolph’s standing on the roster.
On Friday, the Vikings drafted Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round (50th overall), the franchise’s earliest pick at the position since taking Rudolph in 2011’s second round. On Saturday morning, a Sports Illustrated report claimed the Vikings had “gotten calls” from other teams about trading for Rudolph or cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes or Trae Waynes.
General Manager Rick Spielman said “not really” when asked if the Vikings fielded such calls on Saturday.
“Vikings have drafted [tight ends] in 5 straight drafts,” and signed John Carlson to an expensive 2012 free-agent deal, Murphy wrote on Instagram. “While 29-year-old team captain, WPMOY [Walter Payton Man of Year candidate] and 2-time Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph has posted stats as well as elite TEs who are featured in their offenses.”
Murphy ended with a hashtag “grass not always greener.”
Rudolph, 29, is entering the final season under contract at $7.625 million, all of which would be cleared from the Vikings’ books in a potential trade. Rudolph told the Star Tribune on Friday night he would welcome Smith Jr. to the team and rep the Vikings “as long as I’m still wearing purple.”
Cutter pursues two careers
The Vikings’ final pick of the draft at No. 250 overall, long snapper Austin Cutter of the Air Force Academy, is arranging to pursue his Vikings career alongside his military obligations. Cutter is expected to report to Georgia upon graduating in May, but he’s hopeful to find a workaround to pursue both careers. Spielman said he’s “in contact” with the Air Force Academy about finding such an arrangement.
Cutter said he’s spoken with Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, a 2015 fifth-round pick and Navy graduate who had a one-year service deferral in exchange for working one day per week at a Navy prep school nearby New England’s facilities.
“That’s why I came to the Academy, to serve my country,” Cutter said. “There’s an opportunity to do both as others have done in the past. We’ll figure the situation out as it goes.”
Undrafted frenzy begins
Even after the Vikings’ largest haul in the modern draft era, Spielman said the front office was “hammering away and spending money” to attract coveted college free agents immediately after Saturday’s conclusion to the NFL Draft. Starters from safety Anthony Harris to fullback C.J. Ham were found through undrafted free agency, fueling the Vikings’ pursuits through this weekend. Playing undrafted players, Spielman said, helps attract more of them.
“I think amongst the agents we have a pretty good reputation,” Spielman said. “Once they get in here, we’re going to play the best players.”
The Vikings’ undrafted free-agent crop will be finalized on Monday. It’s expected to include quarterback Jake Browning (Washington), receiver Davion Davis (Sam Houston State) and safety Micah Abernathy (Tennessee), according to their agencies.
From top decision-makers to public relations staffers, Vikings employees on Saturday honored longtime linebacker and scout Scott Studwell during the last day of his final NFL draft.
Hats, shirts and a framed jersey donning Studwell’s number, 55, were seen throughout the Vikings’ sprawling team headquarters in Eagan. The franchise’s all-time leading tackler, Studwell announced his retirement last week to end his 42-year run in the organization. He’s worked in the Vikings scouting department since 1991.
“It was an honor to work with him all these years,” Spielman said. “I know how much he meant to everybody in that room. It was very emotional.”