Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph won’t be taking a hometown discount. Not this season.
That’s something the 31-year-old Rudolph made abundantly clear in a recent appearance on the “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” podcast. He voiced his displeasure with his current role in the offense, confirming he won’t take a pay cut if approached by the Vikings this offseason.
Never mind the fact Rudolph is fresh off arguably the worst season of his career. He missed the final month after suffering a foot sprain and finished with 28 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown.
Add in the fact that Rudolph carries a $9.45 million cap hit next season and his contract seems like a natural starting point for a Vikings team looking to trim payroll. They’re projected to be $12.8 million over next season’s salary cap.
If the Vikings released Rudolph outright this offseason, they would save $5.1 million. They could also try to restructure Rudolph’s contract to lower his cap hit — not that Rudolph appears interested. While Rudolph says he understands why general manager Rick Spielman would approach him about taking a pay cut based on his numbers last season, he thinks his production is a product of the way he is used in the offense.
“I just block every play pretty much,” Rudolph said. “I think I’m more than capable as a pass catcher and I don’t get to do it anymore.”
Nonetheless, Rudolph still thinks he can produce at a high level if given the chance.
“I think I’m worth every dime of my contract,” he told Leber. “That doesn’t mean that I’m used to my potential, and I’m being used to do what I do well, so it will be interesting over the next few months.”
This is clearly something that’s been bothering Rudolph for awhile, because once he started opening up to Leber, he couldn’t stop.
“The writing was on the wall,” Rudolph said. “I saw where our offense was going. I had like seven or eight catches in the first six games. It was just absurd. I was literally blocking all the time.”
Asked point blank what he would do if the Vikings asked him to take a pay cut, Rudolph remained firm: He restructured his contract a couple of offseasons ago and doesn’t plan to do it again. Especially if he’s going to stick in his current role.
“You only get to play this game for so many years, and I feel like I have a lot of good football left,” Rudolph said. “I can’t sign up for that again. Am I going to all of a sudden derail my career with a lot of football left?”
Ultimately, Rudolph made it clear he wants to stay with the Vikings, if for no other reason than to try to bring the starving fan base a Super Bowl he feels is long overdue. But it’s not the only thing he wants.
“I want to be a reason why we win this championship,” Rudolph said. “I don’t want to just be a swing tackle.”