Buccaneers sign TE Kyle Rudolph

For the first 10 seasons of his career, tight end Kyle Rudolph was a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but for the second year in a row, Rudolph will be playing for another team.

On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Rudolph.

The 32-year-old is entering his 12th NFL season and spent last season with the New York Giants. He played in 16 games with 13 starts – missing the Nov. 28 victory against Philadelphia with an ankle injury – and caught 26 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown (a one-yarder at Kansas City).

He had a season-high four receptions vs. the Raiders and the Giants’ longest catch of the season, a 60-yarder against the Chargers in Los Angeles on Dec. 12.

Rudolph twice earned Pro Bowl honors (2012, 2017) as a member of the Vikings, and in 2016, set career single-season highs in receptions (83) and receiving yards (840) in 2016.

The former second-round pick (No. 43 overall) of the Vikings in the 2011 NFL Draft has appeared in 156 career games, including 145 starts, tallying 479 receptions for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns. Additionally, he has appeared in six postseason games, all starts, and recorded 16 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Since entering the league in 2011, Rudolph ranks fourth among tight ends in receiving touchdowns, eighth in receptions, eighth in yards after catch (2,124), ninth in receiving first downs (264), and 10th in receiving yards.

Rudolph should give the Buccaneers more depth at the tight end position after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski.

Giants TE Kyle Rudolph returns to practice, excited to play with Jones

New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph passed his physical and returned to practice on Wednesday. The 31-year Rudolph had been on the physically unable to perform/active list since training camp after undergoing foot surgery in the spring.

Rudolph, who spent the first ten years of his career in Minnesota, signed with the Giants in March after being released by the Vikings.

I feel good,” Rudolph said after his first practice. “It was exciting to be back out there with my teammates. For me, this was the first football I’ve gotten to play since December. I’ve still got a long way to go, a lot of work left ahead, but this is what I love to do. The last few months have been tough just watching each and every day, but I’ve got to give a ton of credit to our medical staff, our trainers, our doctors. Here I am today back at practice, and it felt damn good.”

The two-time Pro Bowler was a big fan of Giants QB Daniel Jones from a distance and can’t wait to play with the third-year quarterback.

“It’s been awesome to watch him,” Rudolph said of Jones. “I was a huge fan of his from afar. Obviously, we came up with the Vikings a couple years ago, and our defensive guys just raved about his talent. Now, getting to know him as a player and as an individual, his leadership ability, guys gravitate towards him, and that goes a long way, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Continuity is huge, and we all rally behind Daniel.”

Rudolph worked on individual drills on Wednesday, and Giants head coach Joe Judge expects Rudolph to do increasingly more.

When asked if he is confident that he will be ready for Week 1, Rudolph said the following:

“I’m just going to keep working each and every day to make sure that I’m continuing to progress the way I have for the last five months,” he said. “Like I said, two weeks from now, we’ll look up and see where we’re at.

The Giants continue their second day of joint practices with the New England Patriots on Thursday.

Giants place Barkley, Rudolph on PUP list

The New York Giants placed RB Saquon Barkley, TE Kyle Rudolph, and four others on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, the team announced on Thursday.

Barkley is looking to return after tearing his right ACL last September, while Rudolph is working his way back from offseason foot surgery.

In addition to Barkley and Rudolph, center Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), tackle Matt Peart (back), linebacker Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson (core muscle), the team’s third-round draft choice, was also placed on the PUP list.

According to the NFL, players on the Active/PUP list can be activated at any time during training camp. If they are still on the list at the final roster cutdown to 53, they must either be activated or moved to the Reserve/PUP list. Players on the Reserve/PUP list must be inactive for the first six weeks.



Giants’ Gettleman, Abrams talk free agency

NFL free agency has evolved into a mix of blind dates and musical chairs. 

 Teams often commit millions of dollars to players without meeting face to face – a practice conducted even before the pandemic – at the risk of being the last one standing. The Giants, however, did it differently this year. Their relatively long courtship of free agents like Kenny Golladay, regarded as the top wide receiver on the market, was well-documented as they wined, dined, and ultimately signed.

“We had them in here and it was an old-school free agency,” general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday. “We got to talk, a chance to visit with them, they went out to dinner with various people in the organization, they were here a couple of nights, our doctors were able to put their hands on them. It was an old-fashioned free agency.”

 “It wasn’t just our decision, the players wanted to come in as well,” vice president of football operations and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams said. “Both parties wanted to have the visit.”

The result was a free-agent class that surprised everyone but the people in the building. 

“We got a pretty good understanding of what they’re about and that, to me, was a big advantage,” team president and chief executive officer John Mara said a few weeks ago when the dust settled after the first wave of free agency. “It’s much more difficult to do this when you can’t get the guys in the building and you have to make a commitment to a large amount of money without getting a chance to eye them up and talk to them and get a feel for them. I was happy that we were able to do that this year. It made it easier to give the final okay to say, ‘Yeah, go ahead, get the thing signed.’”

Mara described the approach as “thorough” in the recruiting cycle, stemming from the philosophy that fit supersedes skill when building a team. There was also a tangible reason to bring prospective players in for a visit: medical examination.

In 2020, Golladay missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain.

“Well, you bring him in because you want to get a physical on him,” Gettleman said. “That was the biggest reason, get a physical on him. But it was nice for a change to get to know a guy and have that opportunity to do that. Like I said, it was like the old days. The biggest reason was the physical.”

Meanwhile, a medical check of Kyle Rudolph, who signed with the Giants after a decade in Minnesota, revealed the need for the two-time Pro Bowl tight end to undergo a procedure to repair a foot injury stemming from last season.

Despite the discovery coming after he had agreed to terms, the Giants felt confident to follow through with the signing. “Once he went through all the medical evaluations, we didn’t think that it was necessary [to adjust the contract],” Abrams said.

 “We are the Giants, we’re going to do everything with class,” Gettleman said. “We had an agreement, [head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Barnes] signed off on it, [head team physician] Doc [Scott] Rodeo signed off on it, so we were fine.”

While people like to count the dollars spent, how does the front office quantify how much they improved in free agency?

 “From my opinion, and I think Dave would agree, I think our roster is a lot better now than it was at the end of the season,” Abrams said. “And the offseason is not over yet, so we’ll still have more opportunities to add players. So, I think we feel good with what we’ve done. I think we’re a deeper, more talented team.”

“You know, you can’t quantify it,” Gettleman said. “It’s not going to be quantified until the fall and we start playing in September. But we feel very good about what we’ve done, we feel very good about the direction the team is taking with getting Kenny signed and Kyle Rudolph and Devontae Booker and Adoree’ Jackson and Leo. We feel really great about that and we really feel we’re building a solid football team that the fans can be proud of.”

And they’re not done yet. The Giants hold six picks in next week’s draft, starting with the No. 11 overall selection.

Courtesy: Dan Salomone/Giants

Vikings’ Zimmer: ‘Kyle(Rudolph) has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota’

The Minnesota Vikings have terminated the contract of TE Kyle Rudolph, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 10-year veteran, who spent his whole career in Minnesota, was scheduled to make $9.4 million in 2021. The two-time Pro Bowler signed a four-year, $36 million contract extension with Minnesota back in 2019. 

According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Rudolph‘s release saves Minnesota a little over $5 million in cap space and $8M in cash in 2021.

Last season, Rudolph, 31, was not used much in the passing game for Minnesota. In 12 games, he had 28 receptions for 334 yards and a career-low one touchdown catch. Rudolph was placed on injured reserve by the Vikings on December 29th with a foot injury.

Vikings GM Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer issued the following statements on Rudolph:

Vikings General Manger Rick Spielman:

“From the moment we drafted Kyle as a young man out of Notre Dame in 2011, through his 10th season with the Vikings in 2020, he has been one of the premier tight ends in the NFL and most influential and positive leaders I’ve ever been around. Kyle and Jordan have made such an immeasurable impact on our team and community that may never be matched. The energy they have invested in the community, most notably through the End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, is truly remarkable. I admire Kyle and we will miss him and his family. We sincerely wish them the best.”

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer:

“Kyle has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota. He has been such an important part of this team and community throughout his career and it has been an honor to coach him the last seven seasons. He will be missed, and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Vikes’ Stefanski on GW drive: ‘That drive was indicative of our players making a ton of plays in a big moment’

When the Minnesota Vikings received the ball first against the New Orleans Saints in overtime on Sunday, the goal was to do everything in their power to not give the ball back to the Saints, so for that to happen, they needed to score a touchdown, and they did.

On that drive, RB Dalvin Cook contributed as he rushed for a first down. WR Stefon Diggs caught a pass for a first down; Adam Thielen caught a 43-yard pass to set up Kyle Rudolph’s game-winning four-yard touchdown catch, and of course, QB Kirk Cousins made all throws.

The nine-play, 75-yard drive was orchestrated by Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who discussed the drive on Wednesday,

 “I think consciously we’re trying to score every time we touch it,” Stefanski said. “I think that drive, just credit to the players, Diggsy (Stefon Diggs) makes a big play on third down. Adam (Thielen) and Kirk (Cousins) make a great play, and then Kyle (Rudolph) makes a great play. Dalvin (Cook) had a good run in there to get us a first down. So I think that drive was indicative of our players making a ton of plays in a big moment.”

Of course, the Vikings are better when Thielen and Cook are in the lineup. Against the Saints, Thielen caught seven passes for 129 yards, while Cook ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns. 

According to Stefanski, having a healthy Thielen and Cook makes the Vikings’ offense more dynamic.

“I think we’re fortunate in that we have guys at every position that we feel confident can make a play,” Stefanski said. “When you have a player of Adam’s caliber that you know can make a play in the pass game, coupled with Stefon (Diggs) and the running backs and the tight end that we have, I just think it gives you another element to what we’re trying to do.”

Stefanski added about Cook: “Dalvin is a special player. When he touches the ball, good things happen. Does it open up other elements of our game? Certainly, it does, and we’re never going to shy away from saying that we’re going to be multi-faceted in how we attack a defense, so having number 33 is certainly a nice bonus for us.”

Minnesota has the weapons, and if Cousins is right, they can put up points against anybody, which they will need on Saturday against the 49ers. 

Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph talks new contract

The Minnesota Vikings and TE Kyle Rudolph have agreed to terms on a contract extension, the team announced today.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a four-year deal worth $36 million.

When Minnesota drafted Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr. in the second round, many thought Rudolph could be traded. However, that did not happen, and Rudolph will be in Minnesota for the next few years.

On Monday, as the Vikings begin mandatory minicamp, Rudolph discussed his new deal with the club:

Q: When did it start to feel like a new deal was close enough to actually happen?

Rudolph: Over this weekend, and like he [Rick Spielman] said, last night we agreed to terms.

Q: You and many other players have chosen to stay in Minnesota despite the possibility of leaving to play elsewhere. How much of that is to do with the team’s win-now mentality here in Minnesota?

Rudolph: I think it certainly embodies the winning now mentality, but to me it just embodies the mentality of how much they care about winning, period. They [The Wilf family] came to this organization a little over 12 years ago with one goal, and that was to win a championship. All the stuff that they’ve done since is falling in place with that goal. Certainly we want to win now, that’s not going to change, but with their leadership, they’re providing us every resource imaginable to win now but also to win for a long time.

Q: Were there points during this process where you thought you wouldn’t be back in Minnesota this season?

Rudolph: No, not at all. Like I said, throughout this whole process rumors are spread, but my wife Jordan and I knew all along that we were going to end up back here. Like I said, Rob [Brzezinski] and my agents worked long hours to make sure that there was a way to get this done, and I’m excited it’s behind me. I mentioned last night that I have unfinished business, and that business is bringing the first championship here to this organization and to the state of Minnesota. That’s my only goal at this point. Being the best leader and best football player that I can be so that this team can win a championship, and we can do something that’s never been done in this organization.

Q: How difficult is it to balance the business side of things, like avoiding a contract that would be bad for you, and being a good teammate and a good employee of this team?

Rudolph: It’s difficult if you don’t have people in your corner that you trust. I mentioned it a couple of times, it was easy for me to come out here every day and focus on football because I have two agents that I trusted and I play for an organization that I trust. I knew that Rob had my family and my best interests in mind and I knew my agents had my best interests in mind, so that allowed me to come out here every day and just focus on becoming a better football player and helping this offense get a little better so we can win a championship, and knowing that at some point I’d be standing up here and it’d all be finished.

Q: With that said, it has to be a bit of a relief to get it done now.

Rudolph: I think the biggest thing I’m relieved of is that I won’t be all of your guys’ headlines for the rest of the summer. I’m not used to being that guy in the headlines, so I apologize, now you’ll have to have something else to write about for the rest of the summer. I’m certainly excited that this is behind us and now I can just focus on football. I can focus on being a leader of this football team and doing everything I can to make sure that we’re the first. That’s my only goal, I want to be a part of the first team to win a championship here. We got a taste of it two years ago. When we got close, you got a feel for how important that would be to this state, to this community, to this fan base. Certainly to every player and employee of this organization, but Rob and I were talking this morning, that as important it is for all of us to win [a championship] for us, it’s equally important to win it for this community and for this state, because they deserve it.

Q: Besides the football, how much of a factor do you think your leadership and off of the field involvement played in your contract extension?

Rudolph: Well I think the community, and I mentioned that this is home now for us, played a big part in it. I certainly could have just played out this year and tested free agency and maybe got more money, but that’s not what it was about. I want to be a part of this organization, and nine years ago a guy by the name of Jim Kleinsasser, who was in his 13th year here in Minnesota, talked to me about how throughout his career he had a couple opportunities to make more money elsewhere, but he stayed here because of this organization and because of the state of Minnesota. Now, nine years in and under contract through my 13th year, I hope I’m the same way. It’s important for us, although maybe we left a little bit of money on the table by not going to free agency, I don’t care about that. It’s about being here in the state of Minnesota, playing for this team, being in the color purple that I love and I’m comfortable in, and having my family here in this community.

Q: There also seems to be unfinished business for you personally, being that you’re under 30 years old and still can play. What was the groundswell for that?

Rudolph: Absolutely. I’m under contract for the next five years, and I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that the next five years are better than my last five. I feel like I have a lot of good football left in me, and I feel like this team is just starting to scratch the surface, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen over the last 11 practices, and the way that these guys come to work every day, the way that our staff prepares us, the new system, the guys that we have in that locker room. There’s a reason why people come back to this organization. There’s a reason why Anthony Barr left more money on the table. There’s a reason why I had no interest in testing free agency. It’s because of the culture that we’ve established around here. Culture is what ultimately brings championships. In this league the talent level is so even across the 32 teams, and if you don’t have good culture then you don’t have a chance. We have the culture here, and I’m really excited for this upcoming season.

Q: How much do you think about how long you’d like to play, being that players don’t often get their wish in this league?

Rudolph: I feel better now from a physical standpoint now at 29 than I did at 21. You just learn how to take care of your body, you know what your body needs throughout the course of an offseason to become a better football player, but to also prepare yourself for that season. You learn week by week in season what your body needs to be ready to play on Sundays. I joked about it in the opening press conference this offseason, something about the golf analogy of not being on the back nine yet. Tony Gonzalez played for 17 years, and he set the pole. I’m going to try and play as long as I can, and like I said, at this point my focus is becoming a better football player now and doing everything I can to help this offense get a little better and bring that first championship to the state of Minnesota.

Q: How do you feel knowing that you signing this extension can help the Vikings from salary cap standpoint?

Rudolph: The numbers side obviously speaks for itself. I’ve lowered the cap number, and now we have wiggle room throughout the course of the season, which obviously everyone knows is necessary. I’m glad that worked out as well.