Kyle Rudolph is no longer a member of the Minnesota Vikings. After 10 seasons, the Vikings released the 31-year-old tight end on Tuesday, ending an era. During his time in Minnesota, Rudolph was selected to two Pro Bowls and became a leader on offense. While his numbers dropped off over the past two seasons he should have several teams interested in picking him up.
To be clear, Rudolph isn't the guy he once was, but he's still a reliable target and a red zone threat. The number of passes thrown his way plummeted over the past two seasons as he combined to grab 67 passes on 85 targets for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. He still has ability if utilized properly.
Here are four potential landing spots for Rudolph as he hits free agency for the first time.
New England Patriots
The Patriots rolled out the worst tight end group in the NFL last season. Between Ryan Izzo, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, Pats tight ends totaled 18 receptions on 42 targets for 254 yards and one touchdown. Between those three and Matt LaCosse New England has four tight ends under contract but none of them have done anything notable at the NFL level. Rudolph has.
Bill Belichick & Co. hope Keene and Asiasi are the future, as both were third-round picks in 2020, but for the present the Pats need an established tight end to show the way. Rudolph isn't the dominant Pro Bowler he once was but he can still be a red zone target and go get balls over the middle. He'd be a great bridge pickup until the two young tight ends are ready.
The Bills have a Super Bowl contending roster right now, but one position of need is tight end. Dawson Knox and Lee Smith are under contract for 2021, but neither is exciting and the team needs to add at least one more body to the mix. Rudolph fits given his experience and ability in the red zone. There won't be a lot of balls to go around with a fantastic receiving corps gobbling up most of the targets, but given his diminished ability the chance to make a Super Bowl run as a secondary target would probably be just fine for Rudolph. He'd also be reuniting with Stefon Diggs, who surely remembers how valuable his former running buddy can be.
With Greg Olsen retiring, the Seahawks have an open spot for a reliable tight end. Colby Parkinson is heading into his second year, while undrafted free agent Tyler Mabry has some upside. Will Dissly isn't exactly an exciting option as the team's No. 1 tight end, so there is a big need for a solid presence here. Perhaps most importantly, the Seahawks are up against it with the salary cap and a relatively low-cost veteran replacement looking to make a run for a ring could be the best fit. Rudolph fits that description. The more help Seattle can get Russell Wilson the better. A veteran addition like Rudolph is a really nice fit here.
The Cardinals need to find weapons for Kyler Murray and there is a gaping hole at tight end on the current roster. Maxx Williams is the only guy currently under contract and he has a whopping 23 receptions in two years with Arizona. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury deploys his tight ends as receiving targets a lot and that's where Rudolph eats. A cost-effective veteran presence at the position would help the Cardinals save money to find Murray at true No. 2 receiver as well.
Like J.J. Watt, Rudolph could be sold on Murray's promise and the ability to chase a championship on a young up-and-coming team.