Minnesota Vikings star tight end Kyle Rudolph was having the best season of his career before he went down with a season-ending injury, as he hauled in 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns in his third season in the league. The previous year, Rudolph caught 53 passes for 493 yards and nine touchdowns, establishing himself as a solid safety valve at tight end and a key red zone weapon in the Vikings offense.
This year, Rudolph looks poised for a monster season, because new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has a way of getting the most out of tight ends (Jordan Cameron last year) and featuring them heavily. The 24-year-old Notre Dame product will also enter the season locked up on a huge contract, as FOX Sports’s Jay Glazer reported that Rudolph and the Vikings have agreed to a five-year extension that will lock up their young TE through the 2019 season. The fourth-year pro will make $36.5 million over those five seasons after netting just $960,000 this upcoming year on the final year of his rookie deal.
It’s great to hear that the Vikings have locked up Rudolph long-term, and he won’t be expensive on a year-to-year basis. It makes him a high-paid player for a tight end, but TE contracts are due to go up given the pass-catching value that players like Rudolph provide. With him, Greg Jennings, and Cordarrelle Patterson, Teddy Bridgewater should have a great trio of weapons to work with in the future. Even if Matt Cassel starts this year, Bridgewater is the quarterback of the future, and he has a bright future due to his own talent and the weapons surrounding him.
Most people believe Rudolph is in for a breakout season, and it would be unwise to bet against a player of his caliber, as well as a favorable offensive system for a pass-catching TE. He’s only developing physically, and he dropped 15 pounds this offseason in order to better fill Turner’s role in the offense. A high amount of touchdown receptions and targets should be expected for Rudolph, who is easily one of the top ten tight ends in the game right now.