Veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph said in January he would not restructure his contract, and he never budged on that. The end result was his release Tuesday by the Vikings after 10 seasons with the team.
Rudolph was on the books in 2021 to make a $7.65 million base salary and have a salary-cap number of $9.3875 million. By letting him go, Minnesota saved $5.0375 million under the cap.
“While I understand that a lot of the news today is going to focus on me and the team parting ways, I’d personally rather focus on the flip side of that: the fact that me and the Vikings stayed together for 10 whole seasons….. an insane run in today’s NFL,’’ Rudolph wrote Tuesday in a first-person article on The Players Tribune.
Rudolph joined the team as a second-round draft pick in 2011 out of Notre Dame, and made two Pro Bowls in his decade with the Vikings. He ranks first in team history among tight ends for touchdowns (48) and second to Steve Jordan in receptions (453) and yards receiving (4,488).
Rudolph’s production slipped in the past two seasons, and the Vikings are in good position for the future at tight end with Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin, a pair of up-and-coming players. With the salary cap going down from $198.2 million to as low as $180 million due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rudolph would have had to take a drastic pay cut to remain with the Vikings.
However, Rudolph made it clear in late January in an appearance on the “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” podcast that he would not restructure his contract.
“I think I’m worth every dime of my contract,” said Rudolph, who signed a four-year, $36 million extension in June 2019, which put him under contract through 2023.