Kyle Rudolph said Monday he’d like clarity soon about his future with the Vikings, just days after the team and Rudolph’s camp stopped negotiating a possible extension.
Broken-down talks, which coach Mike Zimmer and Rudolph acknowledged Monday during the inaugural Mike Zimmer Golf Classic in Eden Prairie, have put Rudolph square on the trading block. The Pro Bowl tight end is due $7.625 million, none guaranteed, in a contract season and the Vikings need salary cap space.
Rudolph, 29, reiterated his desire to stay with the Vikings but said a quick resolution would benefit both sides regardless of where he lands.
“Sooner rather than later,” Rudolph said. “I don’t want to be dealing with this come OTAs, training camp, minicamp. So, the sooner the better. I think that’s for both parties. I think the Vikings want clarity; I think we want clarity. Yeah, sooner the better.
“Last week would’ve been great, too. Obviously, it’s a difficult situation and a lot of complex things go into it. That takes time. It’s not an easy cut — they like me, I like them, we want to stay here — it’s just not how it works.”
The Vikings and Rudolph’s representatives tabled negotiations Friday on a new contract when financial gaps still weren’t bridged.
Zimmer said as much when asked about Rudolph’s future.
“I’ve had conversations with Kyle,” Zimmer said. “Quite honestly, I really love all my players. We expect Kyle to be here. Sometimes business gets in the way.”
Rudolph, whose 41 touchdowns rank fourth among tight ends since the 2011 draft, is set to be the fifth-highest paid at his position in 2019. And after drafting tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round, the Vikings need salary cap space to get the entire draft class under contract — specifically first-round pick Garrett Bradbury, who is one of two picks unsigned.
The Vikings have the least cap space ($738,054) in the NFL, according to the NFLPA, which threatens Rudolph’s place as team captain entering his ninth season in Minnesota. He said he would not take a pay cut.
“I know my agent [Brian Murphy] and [Vikings executive vice president for football operations] Rob [Brzezinski] are working extremely hard with Rick [Spielman],” Rudolph said. “We’re in a tough situation as a team. You can’t keep everybody, and you can’t pay everybody. Those guys I know are working really hard to try to figure out something.”
The Vikings recently ponied up lucrative multiyear contracts to linebacker Anthony Barr, quarterback Kirk Cousins, receiver Stefon Diggs and defensive end Danielle Hunter, among others. So sacrifices are asked of some to stay; defensive end Everson Griffen took a $3 million pay cut this spring.
Rudolph, who turns 30 in November, said he’s reluctant, but has accepted a trade is possible in lieu of a new contract.
“Change happens,” Rudolph said. “You don’t realize how many guys change teams on a yearly basis. Obviously, that’s not what we’re hoping for. We’ve been very fortunate to be in one place going on nine years and this is home for us. It’s going to be home for us. That’s the way we want it to be.”