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.

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Diggs on Cousins: ‘As far as having a veteran quarterback that has been around the game, I trust him’

Last season, things did not go the way Vikings fans envisioned, especially after Minnesota signed QB Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal. What was envisioned, a Super Bowl contending team, and what actually happened are two different things.

The Vikings(8-7-1) missed the playoffs in 2018 after making the NFC title game in 2017, and while statistically speaking Cousins(4298 yards, 30 touchdowns) had a decent season, he did not do make things happen when the team needed him the most, which included losing to the Bears at home with the playoffs on the line in the season finale.

Even though the Vikings did not have the success they wanted, Minnesota’s star WR Stefon Diggs still has confidence in Cousins.

“I feel like it’s the big picture. Everybody wants things to happen so fast,” Diggs said on Wednesday. “But Kirk was only here six months or something like that. As far as going into his second year and getting comfortable, I remember at one point I was with Teddy [Bridgewater], and it took a while to get adjusted. I was new to the league, and he was young, too.

“As far as having a veteran quarterback that has been around the game, I trust him. Going into his second year, I look forward to building the relationship and just moving forward. We kind of have a bad taste in our mouths from last year. Of course, we had high goals like everybody else. Things didn’t go that way. Going into the new year, we have the same goals, but we just have to handle it differently.”

I think it’s safe to say that we don’t know what Cousins is at this point. Some believe he is good but not good enough to win a title, while others believe he is good enough to put  Minnesota over the top.  To Diggs’ point, we do have to give Cousins more than one year to prove his worth, but if things don’t go right for Minnesota this season, Vikings fans won’t be very patient.

Vikings sign eight selections from 2019 NFL Draft

 The Minnesota Vikings have announced the following roster moves:

DRAFT PICKS SIGNED:

PLAYER                      POS.       RD./SELECTION                        COLLEGE

Irv Smith Jr…………………. TE………………… 2nd/50th……………………… Alabama

Alexander Mattison……… RB………………. 3rd/102nd………………….. Boise State

Dru Samia……………………. G……………….. 4th/114th…………………… Oklahoma

Cameron Smith…………… LB………………. 5th/162nd………. Southern California

Marcus Epps…………………. S……………….. 6th/191st…………………….. Wyoming

Olisaemeka Udoh……….. OT……………….. 6th/193rd……………………………. Elon

Dillon Mitchell…………….. WR……………….. 7th/239th……………………….. Oregon

Olabisi Johnson………….. WR……………….. 7th/247th…………….. Colorado State

Thielen: ‘Obviously, money is good and everything, but championships are what it’s about’

Vikings WR Adam Thielen has proven to be one of the top receivers in football. Over the past two seasons, Thielen has averaged 102 receptions, 1324 yards, and six touchdowns. All while making the Pro Bowl in both of those seasons(2017, 2018).  This type of productivity is what got Thielen paid as he and the Vikings agreed on a four-year, $64 million contract extension last week.

Thielen, who was an undrafted free agent, has turned himself into an elite wide receiver in the NFL. It’s a remarkable journey for Thielen, and now he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Thielen addressed the media today to discuss his new deal with Minnesota, his goal of winning a title with the Vikings, and more.

 Q: What did it feel like to finally sign the deal? What has it meant to you?

A: Honestly, it never was about money for me for any of this. It was just about being in the spot that my family and I wanted to be, and to be here locked up for a long time and to just show that we’re willing to do what it takes to be here and to have the opportunity to give back. That’s what it’s been about the whole time, and again, it’s never been about the money or anything like that, it’s just about having the opportunity to be here for a long time and to use those resources to give back.

Q: What does it say about the Vikings getting the deal done so quickly and not letting it linger?

A: It shows what type of organization this is. They’re not here to lowball people, they’re not here to take advantage of people. They want to reward the people that helped this football team win games, and ultimately they want to win games. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons that I want to be here for a long time, because I want to win games. I guess it just shows, it shows what this organization is about and how they treat their players and guys that may deserve to be here, and reward them for that.

Q: There seems to be two goals for football players, to win championships but also get that big contract. It has to mean something to be able to get one of the two?

A: Obviously, money is good and everything, but championships are what it’s about. Maybe a little bit too of feeling appreciated more than the fact that they paid me this amount of money. But like I said, it’s all about winning, it’s all about giving back, and it’s all about being in a situation that you feel comfortable in. When you find a locker room like we have and you have guys like that, you don’t want to go somewhere else. You want to be here and you want to be here for a long time. That’s what my family and I are most excited about.

Q: A lot of teams can preach being a family, but it seems like they’ve been able to show that in a tangible way here in Minnesota, haven’t they?

A: Oh yeah, for sure. You see that with Anthony Barr and other guys, they don’t care about the money. They want to be here, they want to be here for a long time, they want to be around these guys and they want to win. We know we have some pieces that we think we can do it with, and obviously it takes  a lot of hard work and dedication, and that’s why we’re here right now, to get back after it.

Q: How different is this workout from last year?

A: Well we’re only two days in, so I don’t know too much. I guess mindset wise everybody just has a different mindset this year. I think everybody is excited to learn the offense, to be around the guys. It’s not as much excitement about who’s here and who the new guy we signed is, it’s more about, “Hey, let’s get back on the field, let’s take advantage of every single one of these days. We don’t get a whole lot of hours in the building, so let’s take advantage of them.” I think teams that win championships, they win them right now by the work they put in and by doing it the right way. We’re trying to do that.

Q: What do you remember about that tryout with the Vikings six years ago, and what can you say about how far you’ve come since then?

A: I think when I look back at it I honestly get more nervous than I was in the moment. I talk about it a lot, I think back to that time and I think about coming in there and not really thinking much of it. I was just going to play football. When I was on the field I was just playing football, I didn’t feel any different than in college, didn’t feel any different than in high school. I think now when I look back I kind of get nervous, because I know that if I wouldn’t have done this right, or I would have been late to this, or if I would have ran the wrong route, I might have never gotten the chance. It’s just kind of crazy to look back at it, and the confidence that I had going into it, I probably shouldn’t have had, but I did. Again, God gave me an opportunity and he put me there for a reason, so it’s pretty cool to look back at that.

Q: Is that part of what you might say to younger kids in a similar position? To not look at the big picture of the NFL and get overwhelmed by it?

A: Yeah, I think that’s with anything in life. I think you just have to take advantage of the moment and you have to use every moment and you have to make the right decisions, and you can’t think about just how that’s going to affect you that day. You got to think about how that’s going to affect you in the big picture. Sometimes I get myself caught up in that and have to take a step back. I think that’s one thing that’s great about NFL off seasons, you get an opportunity to just kind of step back and look at your life and look at some of the things you’re doing and try to figure out what’s best for you and your family. It was a really good offseason for that, just to take a step back and realize some of the things I need to work on and get better at and then try to do that.

Q: Could you appreciate what you did well and did you take time to admire your successes, like your record-setting stretch of 100-yard games?

A: No, I don’t think I ever will honestly. Those things just aren’t important to me. I think there’s more to life to me than setting records and things like that. I don’t want to leave this world being remembered for that stuff. Honestly, for me it’s just trying to be the best person I can be every day – be the best person on the field, off the field I can be and trying to grow and learn from our mistakes, whether that be on the field or off the field. Try and not to worry about what people think about me, just trying to focus on, again, getting better.

Q: How long did it take to shake off the way last season ended or have you been able to?

A: Yeah, honestly, I know it might be cliché to say but I’m just really excited about being here right now, getting back after it with the teammates and working towards next year. You can’t dwell on the past, you can’t look at the past and try and change things because you can’t go back and you can’t change it. I mean obviously right after the season you start thinking about things and when you have all that time to yourself you start thinking about “woulda, coulda, shoulda”. But at the same time, I think that’s why it’s important to get back into the weight room and try to figure out things that you need to do to get better and focus on that rather than what you could have done better and what you could of changed from the season before.

Q: Do you have any new purchases planned?

A: No. Not yet. My wife does a good job of holding me back on that kind of stuff, but I think it’s a really cool opportunity to be able to give back to this community, to people, and places that have been so instrumental in my career and my life and shaping who I am. Just trying to figure out a game plan with that, but no game plan for purchases that’s for sure.

Q: What are some of the things you will do in the community?

A: It’s something that I have to sit down with my wife and some of the people that we respect as far as counsel, so we haven’t decided on any of that stuff yet.

Q: Do you demand more of yourself now going into this season with this new deal?

A: I don’t think that’s fair to do to yourself. Honestly, I’m going to take the same approach and kind of the things that I just talked about. I’ve been able to step back and figure out what things on the field and off the field that I need to do better and now I got to go and attack that and try to be the best teammate I can be, try to be the best leader I can be and let everything else play itself out. At this point, that’s all you can do. There’s only so many things you can control and everything else you just got to let it play out.

Vikings re-sign C Brett Jones

Minnesota Vikings re-signed C Brett Jones, the team announced today.

According to Twincities.com, it’s a one-year deal that a source said could be worth as much as $1.5 million with incentives. The source said Jones will receive a base salary of about $850,000 and a signing bonus of roughly $100,000.

Jones, 27, enters his second season with the Vikings in 2019 after originally being acquired from the New York Giants via trade on August 26, 2018.

The native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, appeared in 14 games for Minnesota in 2018, making three starts at center. Prior to joining the Vikings, Jones appeared in 30 games in three seasons with the Giants, making 14 starts.

Jones spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, helping the club to a Grey Cup title in 2014 and earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman award for his efforts.

Anthony Barr: ‘I love Minnesota, but I’m willing to play anywhere’

The Minnesota Vikings will have a decision to make in this offseason on Pro Bowl LB Anthony Barr. The 26-year-old Barr will be a free agent in the next few weeks, and there will be a market for the four-time Pro Bowler.

‘I love Minnesota, but I’m willing to play anywhere that I find fits, that fits comfortable, that I would have a role on a team with, and help win, so my possibilities are open,” Barr told TMZ Sports.

Based on his comments, Barr seems open to anything, including leaving Minnesota. Last offseason, the Vikings gave extensions to LB Eric Kendricks, WR Stefon Diggs, and DE Danielle Hunter, but not Barr.

In 2018, Barr had 55 tackles and three sacks in 13 games with Minnesota.

Recently, NFL.COM said the following about Barr: “It’s a bit of a concern that a great defensive coach like Mike Zimmer didn’t consistently get more out of him.”

Does Minnesota try to re-sign Barr? Do they franchise him? Do they let him walk? Should be interesting to see how they handle Barr in the offseason.

 

Vikings’ Zimmer talks the return of Everson Griffen to the team

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings announced that DE Everson Griffen would return to the team. Griffen, 30, was away from the team dealing with mental health issues. The three-time Pro-Bowler last played in Week 2 against the Packers.

Back in September, Griffen was involved in a series of strange incidents, which led him to step away from the team to deal with his mental health.

Today, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer discussed the return of Griffen.

Q: Are you foreseeing that Everson Griffen plays this week?

A: I don’t know. We are just going to see how he comes back. Really, that’s not the focus right now. The focus is just seeing how he’s doing, work him in a little bit and then we’ll decide at the end of the week.

Q: How does he look physically?

A: Good. He’s been working out.

Q: How do you go about the team’s plan to integrate him into team activities?

A: We have a plan as far as what we are going to give him today and tomorrow and all the things he has to do.

Q: Are you saying he will practice today?

A: Yes.

Q: Does his return give the team him a little bit of a lift knowing that he is back and how they care for him?

A: Well they really care for him and they like him. They are glad he is doing much better. He came in and saw me yesterday and he was in good spirits. I haven’t seen him around the rest of the players other than meetings and there’s not much talking going on there.

Q: Was that the first time you’ve seen or talked to him in about a month?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you share any details about how it went?

A: No, I can’t share any details. Just a normal talk.

Q: What does it mean to see everything he’s tried to work through to this point?

A: He’s done a lot of work. We’ve been in contact with the doctor constantly and talking to him about the things that he’s done and accomplished while he’s been there, things he has to do in the future and all that. It’s good.

Q: Is there a chance he can play this week?

A: I don’t know. I haven’t’ seen him in a month.

Q: What kind of support have you received in learning how to work through this and support Everson in the way that he needs?

A: I don’t want to get into too much but I bet you there is people in this room that have had to deal with these kind of issues as well. Everybody in life has probably had to deal with some kind of these different types of issues that go on and aren’t necessarily hamstrings. I know people that I have dealt with in the past. I know people, the doctors, the medical experts, they all help with these situations. I don’t think this is as unique as what we are making it out to be. This is an illness and he’s done a good job of helping to get better and continues to try to get better. He’s probably going to have to continue to do that. Just like we all have to do in life. We all have to try to improve and work on the things we’re working on and getting better at.

Mike Singletary: Bears most complete team in NFC North

The surprising Chicago Bears are 3-1 and on top of the NFC North after blowing out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-10 at Soldier Field on Sunday. In that game, their second year QB Mitchell Trubisky threw six touchdowns passes, and their all-world DE Khalil Mack recorded a sack and a forced fumble.

The Bears are rolling, and according to Hall of Famer and former Bears LB Mike Singletary, Chicago has the best team in the NFC North.

“I think there is some things going on in Minnesota right now. I think Everson Griffen(out indefinitely with mental health issue) is a huge part of their defense, and it’s going to be hard to replace,” Singletary told TMZ Sports. “I think Green Bay they’re doing okay, but at the end of the day, I think the Bears are the most complete team in that division.”

Minnesota is struggling right now, and they have a tough road game coming up against the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles this week. If they lose on Sunday, Minnesota would be 1-3-1. Concerning the Packers, they still have Aaron Rodgers, and with Rodgers in the mix, they will have a legitimate chance to win the division.

The Bears seem to have a good team, and if Trubisky continues to play decent football, and Mack continues to play at an MVP level, maybe the Bears will win the North, but the Vikings and Packers still have decent amount talent on their respective rosters, so winning the division won’t be easy for Chicago.