Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Kyle Rudolph Chasing ‘Perfect Opportunity’ In NFC, Nixing Vikings Reunion: Report

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The speculation is over.

Though Kyle Rudolph expressed his interest in returning to the Minnesota Vikings on KFAN radio, it won’t be a comfortable reunion for the longtime fan favorite and the team that drafted him.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported On July 20, Rudolph signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady has a new tight end: The #bucs sign veteran Kyle Rudolph to a one-year deal, per source. A two-time Pro Bowl pick, Rudolph spent 10 years in Minnesota before playing for the United States #Giants in 2021. Now he’s a big part of the post-Gronk plan in Tampa,” Pelissero tweeted.

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Spending the summer in Minnesota, where his family has settled for a decade, Rudolph said he’s received high praise during his homecoming in recent months.

“I said it as I walked away from here, ‘Minnesota is always home.’ I became more aware of this when we came back from New Jersey after last season. Whether it’s at the grocery store in Wayzata or at a Timberwolves game… [or] WWE Smackdown this Friday. “Come Home Kyle” chants erupted in the middle of one of the games,” Rudolph said on KFAN on June 21. So much love that I and my family have received from people across the state has really been an eye opener to how how much we are admired by Vikings fans and how much love they have shown us over the last ten years of our lives here.”

Rudolph, who is entering his 12th NFL season and soon to be 33, has little more to look for.

He is the Vikings’ record holder for most tight end touchdowns (48) and is about 1,800 yards behind to pass Steve Jordan. He added that he would love to continue to improve on Jordan’s record and become the undisputed greatest tight end in franchise history, but at this point in his career he’s aiming for more – a championship.

And while Rudolph said that one of his only regrets was not winning a Minnesota championship, he chose to pursue his title ambitions with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers after waiting most of the offseason for what what he described as a “perfect opportunity”.

“Certainly there is one more thing for me to do here and that is to win a championship in Minnesota. Of course I would love to have another chance to crack it. I talked about being calculated on my next decision. I’ve never won a Super Bowl. I would love to raise a Lombardi at some point in my career. I believe this Vikings team has the chance to do that and of course I would be open to that.”

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appearing on the SKOR North Podcast Just hours before Rudolph was signed, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson predicted the veteran’s tight end would sign with Tampa Bay.

Wolfson also expressed concern about third-year breakout contestant Irv Smith Jr. coming back from meniscus surgery after missing the entire 2021 season. Wolfson said because Minnesota never hung up on the pursuit of Rudolph led him to believe there were either some question marks regarding Smith or the receptiveness of the rest of the tight end group.

“I’m wondering what exactly is going on with Irv Smith Jr.,” Wolfson said, “Is the knee still an issue? He denied it, but we get lied to all the time. What shape is he in? How’s the knee? They have a few blocking tight ends, but outside of Irv they don’t have a pass catching tight end that’s really trusted.”

Smith has been a participant at all of the OTAs, but it remains to be seen if he will start the season on a pitch count.

Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt and Zach Davidson all have 11 catches as the remaining tight ends on the depth chart throughout their careers.

“I’m wondering what exactly is going on with Irv Smith Jr.,” Wolfson said, “Is the knee still an issue? He denied it, but we get lied to all the time. What shape is he in? How’s the knee? They have a few blocking tight ends, but outside of Irv they don’t have a pass catching tight end that’s really trusted.”



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