Kyle Rudolph and the Minnesota Vikings seem to be going in the right direction.
Rudolph, entering the last year of his original four-year contract, has agreed with the Vikings on a five-year extension that makes him the fifth-highest paid NFL tight end in terms of yearly salary ($7.3 million per year), and third-highest in terms of guaranteed money ($19.4 million), according to NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. The contract calls for a total amount of $36.5 million over the five years, with the potential of earning $40 million.
Rudolph has hauled in 109 passes for 1,055 yards and 15 touchdowns in three NFL seasons, all with Minnesota. The Vikings selected Rudolph in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played collegiately at Notre Dame.
“I’m extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings,” Rudolph said in a statement issued by the club Sunday night. “I’ve said all along I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and, most importantly, I’m excited about where this team is going. I’m looking forward to the 2014 season and helping this organization reach our ultimate goal.”
This is a bit of a gamble the Vikings have taken on Rudolph, but not the first one, per Yahoo! Sports. Rudolph was drafted after missing seven games of his last season at Notre Dame with a severe hamstring injury. Rudolph was able to play in 31 of 32 games in his first three years with the Vikings, but missed eight games in 2013 due to a broken foot. However, he was able to catch 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns, which got Rudolph chosen to the Pro Bowl game. Rudolph received the Offensive MVP award for that Pro Bowl Game.
When healthy, Rudolph can stretch the field and make the Viking offense harder to cover. The Vikings feel they are putting together something special on offense. New head coach Mike Zimmer’s new offensive coordinator Norv Turner is coming in to try to achieve the same tight end results he helped to create in Dallas with Jay Novacek and Antonio Gates in San Diego. The Vikings have made some good acquisitions, starting with running back Adrian Peterson, one of the premier backs in the league. The Vikings drafted Cordarrelle Patterson to be their game-breaking wide receiver from Tennessee, and this year drafted quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the future quarterback. Bridgewater will still compete for the starting quarterback job with Matt Cassel, but with this nucleus, the Vikings may have found their future.