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.”
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has coached some very good defenses over the years, but at this point, the defense that he is coaching right now is not very good.
The Vikings’ defense allowed the Saints to score 52 points, including 264 yards rushing and 583 yards of total offense. In addition, they allowed Saints RB Alvin Kamara to run for six touchdowns.
In August, Zimmer told the NFL Network that he’s never been apart of a lousy defense. Well, after their performance against the Saints, Zimmer admitted the obvious.
“Yeah, this is a bad defense,” Zimmer said after the game. “Worst one I’ve ever had.”
The 52 points are the most Minnesota allowed since 1963, so it’s all bad for the Vikings.
Currently, the Vikings have the 27th ranked defense in football.
“You’ve gotta work really hard to give up 52,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings(6-9), who are on a three-game losing streak, have been officially eliminated from the playoffs with the loss to New Orleans.
Coming into the season, the Vikings had a lot of promise after making it to the Divisional Round a year ago. However, Minnesota got off to a 1-5 start, and while they were able to get to 6-6, the last few weeks have been a disappointment. Now, they go into the offseason, trying to figure out what went wrong in 2020.
Listen below as Zimmer talks his bad Vikings’ defense:
Two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings were 6-6 and had control of the final wild-card spot in the NFC after starting 1-5. However, two losses later, the Vikings are on the outside looking in.
On Sunday, the Vikings fell to the Bears at home 33-27, and at 6-8, making the playoffs will be an uphill battle for Minnesota as they fall two games behind the seventh-seeded Cardinals for the final wild-card spot in the NFC with two games to play.
“It’s certainly not where we wanted to be,’ Vikings QB Kirk Cousins said after the game. “You look back, and you think about some really tough losses, one play here or there throughout the season, that you know you’re so close. That’s why, when you prepare all week, when you’re in the game, you feel that intention and intensity on every snap because you know that it really is one snap that can make the difference in a win or a loss and going to the playoffs or not going to the playoffs.
“Every snap then requires so much focus, and you need to cover your bases Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so you’re ready to go. This league, it’s just the way it is. Every game is back-and-forth, and then it tests you, and this season is just another reminder of that.”
These two teams met in Week 10, and in that game, Minnesota’s defense held QB Nick Foles and Chicago to 6 points(scored TD on KO return) and 149 total yards in the Vikings’ 19-13 victory. On Sunday, QB Mitchell Trubisky and Chicago scored 33 points and had 397 total yards, which disappointed Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
“We didn’t play very well defensively today,” he said. “Last time we played [the Bears], they didn’t score a touchdown on us defensively, and this week we couldn’t slow them down. We didn’t do a good job on the bootlegs, didn’t do a good job in the run game, so that was really disappointing.”
At this point, Minnesota will have a difficult time making the playoffs. According to ESPN.COM, the team has a 4% chance of making the playoffs, so barring a miracle, Minnesota’s season is pretty much done and will end in disappointment. Now, they play for pride.
After missing three field goals and an extra point last Sunday, Vikings K Dan Bailey went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts and made all three of his point after touchdown attempts vs. Chicago.
With 132 rushing yards against Chicago, RB Dalvin Cook became the third Viking in team history to rush for over 1,400 yards in a season and passed Adrian Peterson’s 2009 season total (1,383) to move into fifth place in franchise history with 1,484 rushing yards. Peterson (2008, 2012, 2015) and Robert Smith (2000) are the only other Vikings to tally 1,400 rushing yards or more in a season.
Jefferson continues to shine:
WR Justin Jefferson set a franchise rookie record with 73 receptions, breaking the previous record of 69 set by Moss in 1998. With 1,182 receiving yards in 2020, Jefferson ranks seventh overall in NFL history among rookie receivers, passing Harlon Hill (1,124 in 1954), Bill Brooks (1,131 in 1986), Terry Glenn (1,132 in 1996), and Michael Thomas (1,137 in 2016). Jefferson’s 1,182 receiving yards also passed Hill (1,124 in 1954) for the fifth-most receiving yards by a rookie through 14 games. Jefferson became the fifth player in NFL history to record six 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Billy Howton (six in 1952), Hill (seven in 1954), Odell Beckham Jr. (seven in 2014), and Bill Groman (nine in 1960).
Forecasting NFL kickers can be very tricky. Some years they are in a groove and can’t miss, and other times, they get in a funk and can’t make a kick. At this point, Vikings K Dan Bailey is in a funk.
Last week against Jacksonville, Bailey missed one field goal and two extra points, and on Sunday against Tampa Bay, Bailey missed three field goals and one extra point, and ultimately, Minnesota would lose a big game to the Buccaneers 26-14.
After the game, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer seemed miffed about Bailey’s struggles and will decide what to do with Bailey going forward.
‘I don’t know what those struggles were,” Zimmer said. “He pulled one to the left and missed three to the right. So, we’ll have to decide that moving forward.”
At this point, Zimmer is not interested in Bailey’s feelings.
“At this point time in time, we’re not really worried about feelings anymore,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer has a lot of respect for Bailey, and he made that clear after the loss to Tampa Bay.
“I have a lot of faith in him,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in him, but these last two weeks have not been good, so I love the kid. He’s a great kid. He’s very even-natured. I don’t know.”
Bailey was not the only reason the Vikings lost on Sunday, but missing four kicks is inexcusable, so it should be interesting to see what Minnesota does next in the kicking game.
Watch below as Zimmer talks Bailey:
In the last two weeks, the Minnesota Vikings have not played very well. However, the previous two weeks have ended in wins, including Sunday’s 27-24 home victory over the Jaguars(1-11) in overtime. After starting 1-5, the Vikings have evened their record at 6-6 and now have moved into the NFC’s final wild-card spot(7th seed).
Last week, they were down by 11 points to the Panthers going into the fourth quarter and came back to defeat Carolina 28-27, and this week, they were down by 10 points to the Jaguars in the third quarter. Ultimately, the Vikings got the wins, but their head coach Mike Zimmer knows the team has to play better.
“Yeah, usually after you win a game, there’s a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ going on in the locker room, “Zimmer said. “The last two weeks, it hasn’t been like that because they know they can play way better than what they’re playing. I think right now they feel fortunate to be where we are, but they understand – I know they understand, and I’m trying to continue to preach it – that we have to stop doing these things that’s going to cost us games down the road.
“If we stop doing those things, and we continue to play with the heart and the fight and the things that we have, then we’ve got a chance to play. But the last two weeks, you come in the locker room, and it’s more relieved than it is excited. And that’s probably a good thing because I think they know where they’re at in this world right now.”
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 305 yards with three touchdowns and one interception against the Jaguars on Sunday, is happy to get the win, but like Zimmer, knows the team needs to play better if they want to make the playoffs.
“We’ll enjoy the win tonight, but you also have to go back and look critically at every play just like you always do, think about how you can be better and how you can improve now as we enter the final four games of the regular season — the fourth quarter, if you will — we have to be at our best in the fourth quarter,” Cousins said. “We have some good teams we have to play, and we’re going to need our best football to have a shot to get into the playoffs. Proud of the fact that after starting 1-5, we’ve been able to get back to .500. As we said at the bye week, where those 10 games would tell the story of the season remaining, I think the remaining four games are really going to tell the story.”
At 6-6, Minnesota is in good position to make the playoffs. However, as Zimmer and Cousins said, the Vikings have to play better the rest of the way if they want to make the playoffs, and next week they travel to Tampa Bay to battle Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, which won’t be easy. But for now, if the season ended today, Minnesota would be in the playoffs, which is an accomplishment when you consider how the season started.
On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings(5-6) struggled at times against the Carolina Panthers(4-8) Minnesota allowed two defensive touchdowns in the third quarter, including two fumble returns for a touchdown by Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn.
As they entered the fourth quarter, Minnesota trailed 21-10. After Justin Jefferson’s touchdown reception cut the lead to 24-21, Minnesota’s Chad Beebe would muff a punt that set up a Panthers’ field goal. However, Beebe would redeem himself with a game-winning 10-yard touchdown reception. Carolina would have one more chance, but kicker Joey Slye missed a 54-yard field goal, and the Vikings hold on to defeat the Panthers 28-27 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“At the end of the day, a lot of that was on me with those emotions,” Beebe said. “I’d had a dropped punt. It’s funny, though, because things didn’t really get down. I came to the sideline, and everybody was positive, and it’s just having that never-give-up attitude. Our entire team kind of felt that way. We had plenty of time to drive down and score, and that’s exactly what we did.”
While the Vikings did not play their best on Sunday, QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns against Carolina, was happy with the team’s ability to get a win on Sunday.
“May not have been the prettiest game, but ultimately, getting a win is what matters,” Cousins said. “It was great to get one after having some really close losses that were a play away earlier in the year. Really encouraged by us finding a way to win despite us having so many plays we want to have back.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was excited to win, but he was not pleased with his team’s mistakes on Sunday.
“Obviously very pleased to win today,” Zimmer said. “We fought really hard. We made some mistakes – the two turnovers for touchdowns right in the third quarter was not a good thing. And the muffed punt there at the end of the ball game. But we came back – offensively, we came back and did a great job on the 2-minute drill, no timeouts went down and scored. It was nice to see [Chad] Beebe come back with the touchdown after muffing the punt.”
With the victory, the Vikings keep their playoffs hope alive. Minnesota is one game behind Arizona for the final wild-card spot in the NFC, so defeating the Panthers was big for this team.
The Minnesota Vikings have been hot over the past three weeks. After starting the season 1-4, Minnesota reeled off three straight victories, and it appeared the Vikings were moving in the right direction. However, Sunday’s result might have you questioning that.
With the struggling Cowboys in town, Minnesota had a chance to get to .500, but trailing 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, Cowboys QB Andy Dalton threw a two-yard touchdown pass to TE Dalton Schultz, and Dallas(3-7) would go onto defeat Minnesota(4-6) 31-28.
“I don’t think we played well enough to win today,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game. “We had our opportunities, made too many mistakes. Had three fumbles in the first half, lost two. We had too many penalties. We weren’t good in the red zone on defense today. Obviously we can’t get the fourth-down play to win the game. We have to get back to work. We had a good week of practice but just didn’t play well enough; I don’t think.”
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, called the loss “heartbreaking.”
“Yeah, just a heartbreaking loss today,” Cousins said. “It was hard-fought, it was back and forth. It’s one of those games, and so many NFL games are like this, but one or two plays makes the difference in the end. You know that going in, and you feel that during the game, but we just didn’t come out on the right side of enough of those plays to win the game, obviously. Still, a lot of football to be played, but we have to bounce back quickly and get back on track. There are positives to point to, but ultimately when you don’t win, you leave the stadium feeling sick to your stomach.”
This is a game the Vikings had to win. If they get by Dallas, Minnesota would have been two games behind the Packers for the top spot in the NFC North after Green Bay fell to the Colts on Sunday.
Minnesota will be kicking themselves after this disappointing loss. There is still a decent amount of football left for the Vikings, but a loss like this is unacceptable for a team looking to make a run at the playoffs.
The Minnesota Vikings(4-5) may have finally hit their stride. Three straight division opponents and three consecutive wins for the Vikings, including last night’s 19-13 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.
Before last night’s game, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was 0-9 on Monday Night Football. However, the nine-year veteran was 25-36 for 292 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago, and for Cousins, it’s all about doing his part.
“You know, for me, it’s all about playing well and doing my part,” Cousins said after the game. “I’ve played long enough to know there is not a lot you can control as a quarterback. The ball is in your hands, but so many things are out of your control. So you just do the best you can, play the best you can, and that’s where my focus always is. When I leave a game and don’t feel like I played my best, that’s where I get frustrated. Then there are games where you may lose, but you felt like you gave a great effort and played at a high level. You always try to self-evaluate and be critical, but look at it with a trained eye.”
Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who had eight catches for 135 yards on Monday night and tied Randy Moss for the most 100-yard receiving games by a Vikings rookie with four, believes Minnesota is playing with more energy.
“Not having fans in the stadium, we were lacking a lot of energy the first couple of weeks,” Jefferson said. “We found that energy: we found that swagger that we’ve been having. We came out ready to play football. The last three weeks that we’ve been doing, and we’re looking to continue to do it. “
For the Vikings, it’s about getting back into the playoff race, and after starting 1-5 not many thought the playoffs were a possibility. According to their head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are fighting hard.
“You know, they just keep fighting,” Zimmer said. “That’s all we do. We come in there and practice every day. These guys, before the game, we weren’t tight. I could tell in the locker room they weren’t tight. They seemed to go out and practice really hard. They seemed to respond to the — when we are practicing and trying to — one of the things we’ve been emphasizing a lot for the last few weeks is not allowing completions at practice defensively, and I think maybe that’s starting to show up the competition part. It’s three games. We’re fighting our way back into this thing. Hopefully. Still got a lot of football left to play.”
Minnesota appears to be the team that many thought would be at the beginning of the season. Now, it’s time to continue to build on these three victories and make that push for the playoffs.
After going 1-5 in their first six games, it appeared the Minnesota Vikings were going to have a long season. However, last week, Minnesota went into Green Bay and defeated the Packers, and on Sunday, the Vikings(3-5) continued their strong play as they beat the Lions(3-5) at home 34-20.
Against the Packers, it was all about Dalvin Cook, who had four touchdowns against Green Bay, and on Sunday against Detroit, Cook continued his strong play as he ran for 206 yards and two more rushing touchdowns.
In the last two weeks, Cook has 369 yards rushing yards, a team-record through two games. Also, Cook is the third player in team history to rush for 200-plus yards in a game. The last Vikings RB to rush for over 200 yards is Adrian Peterson, who was on the opposite sideline with the Lions on Sunday.
As he did last week, Cook gave credit to his offensive line.
“You talk about confidence, and you talk about just building from last week like I said, them guys up-front, they are going to go home today with a lot of confidence that we can run the football,” Cook said. “That’s what it’s all about with me. giving those guys up front and my guys that are blocking for me a lot of confidence, and I think we got the confidence going into Monday Night Football.”
After their second straight victory, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer believes his team is gaining confidence.
“Well, when you’re sitting there at 1-5, everything is collapsing,” Zimmer said. “You’re getting ready to jump off the cliff. You beat Green Bay, and then you start to get a little juice. You beat Detroit, and now you start getting a little bit more juice. I think the confidence level helps. I think continuing to play well gives us confidence that we can do these things against good football teams. And Detroit’s a good team, they really are. Maybe they weren’t their best today, but It was a good win.”
According to Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, the next eight games will say a lot about Minnesota.
“Well, coming out of the bye at 1-5, my thought process was, ‘We have ten football games left, guaranteed to us.’ Those ten are probably going to tell the story more than the 1-5 start, so I’d say the same with eight left,” he said. “The second half is going to tell the story far more than the first half, so we need to have the best second half we possibly can, and that starts with a tough opponent in Chicago, on the road on Monday Night [Football].”
Minnesota is playing some good football right now, and if they continue to get big-time play out of Cook, maybe, just maybe the Vikings can turn this season around. We’ll see if the strong play continues against Chicago next Monday night.
The Minnesota Vikings have signed General Manager Rick Spielman to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced on Monday. According to reports, and like head coach Mike Zimmer’s extension, it will run through the 2023 season.
Spielman originally joined the Vikings as Vice President of Player Personnel on May 30, 2006, and directed scouting, free agency, and draft preparations for the club before being hired as the team’s general manager on Jan. 3, 2012. Since taking over as general manager, the Vikings rank ninth in the NFL with a .570 winning percentage (72-54-2), which is fourth-best in the NFC over that eight-season span.
“We appreciate Rick’s work ethic, diligence, and commitment to the Vikings. We continue to have the utmost confidence in him as we work to assemble championship-caliber teams to reach our ultimate goal of winning a world championship.” Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf said.
During the 2020 NFL Draft, Spielman turned 12 picks into a seven-round NFL-record 15 selections with two additional picks gained for the 2021 NFL Draft through trades. The Vikings 2020 class is the largest since the NFL condensed its annual draft to seven rounds in 1994. It also marked Minnesota’s first 15-member class since 1985, tying for the largest-overall draft class since 1976, when the team added 17 players over 17 rounds.
Spielman has assembled some talented rosters over the years. Just like with Zimmer’s extension, this is about Minnesota’s belief that Spielman can bring in the talent that is good enough to get the Vikings a championship. Now, we wait and see.