ROCHESTER – Tight end Kyle Rudolph reads the rumors. But Rudolph wants Vikings fans and the state of Minnesota he’s so intertwined with to know he’s staying in purple and gold for the upcoming season.
Speaking at a fundraiser for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on Sunday night, Rudolph took the mic for a Q&A session in front of 600 people and, before taking questions about his faith, said, “I’ll answer the first question: No, I’m not leaving Minnesota,” to address social media claims he turned down a restructured deal and could be cut by the cap-strapped Vikings as NFL free agency begins Wednesday.
In an interview after the session, Rudolph clarified his contract status, which keeps him in Minnesota for one more season at a $7.625 million cap charge — none guaranteed.
“For the last two weeks, there have been a bunch of stories circling about me being asked to restructure my contract, taking a pay cut or getting cut,” Rudolph said. “Neither me nor my agent have had any contact with the Vikings in that regard. From our understanding, I’m here playing under the contract I’m under for one more year.”
His agent, Brian Murphy, doubled down in a statement to NFL Media on Sunday night saying the Vikings have not approached them about “a pay reduction and have told us explicitly that Rudy will not only be on the team this year, but hopefully for years to come.” Rudolph, a second-round pick in 2011, signed a five-year, $36.5 million extension in July 2014. Negotiations about a contract extension, according to Rudolph, have not begun.
Rudolph, 29, is set to be the NFL’s eighth-highest-paid tight end in 2019, a year after he ranked seventh among his peers in catches (64) and 10th in receiving yards (634). He said he’d welcome a new contract, adding there’s an understanding between the Vikings and his camp about his playing future in Minnesota.
“I don’t want to play anywhere else. The Vikings know that. They know I want to finish my career here,” Rudolph said. “It’s funny when I read stuff that I turned down a restructure. You’d have to be out of your mind to turn down a restructure when I have an unguaranteed contract. They’re going to guarantee [money], lower my cap number and help the team? If that was ever put on the table, why would I decline it?”
The Vikings appear set to return their pecking order next season at tight end in Rudolph, David Morgan and Tyler Conklin. Rudolph, a two-time Pro Bowler, has played 67 consecutive games.
Rudolph added he’s confident a new Vikings contract will come eventually.
“Because I know what I’m worth as a player. They know what I’m worth as a player,” Rudolph said. “When you agree, that’s a good thing.”