The Green Bay Packers have some questions at the end, and a longtime rival is on the short list of possible answers.
Robert Tonyan currently tops Green Bay’s depth chart in that position, but tore his cruciate ligament in a Week 8 win against the Arizona Cardinals. His performance to this point has been mediocre at best after a career year in 2020, when he amassed nearly 600 receiving yards with 52 catches and 11 touchdowns. Tonyan finished the 2021 season just before halftime with just 18 total catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference.
The Packers re-signed Tonyan this offseason to a one-year, $3.75 million deal with Spotrac. But with questions about Tonyan’s health and just one truly productive year in four NFL seasons, not to mention a cavalcade of unproven and overblown options supporting him, Green Bay is in the market for another quality tight end.
One of the most viable options the Packers still have in free agency is former Minnesota Vikings pass catcher Kyle Rudolph.
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Rudolph struggled last season, playing his first year in 11 years with a team other than the Vikings. Unfortunately for Rudolph, that team was the New York Giants and his quarterbacks were primarily Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon.
Predictably, Rudolph recorded poor stats in 2021, piling up just 257 yards on 26 catches and finding the end zone just once. He remains a starting caliber tight end, however, after pulling 13 starts for the Giants last year, and his production would almost certainly increase if he started catching passes from four-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rudolph also struggled a bit in 2020, his final season in Minnesota, although injuries knocked him out for a quarter of the season. Over the course of his career, Rudolph has 49 touchdowns, nearly 500 passes and 5,000+ receiving yards.
He was also long-lived, appearing in 156 games and starting 145 of them over his 11-year NFL career. Rudolph has only appeared twice in under 10 games in a season, the last time in 2014.
Rudolph was also a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Vikings, earning that honor in 2012 and again in 2017.
It’s no secret that the Packers are looking to come on for Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller. They’d have to trade that through, though the Raiders don’t seem inclined to sell their Pro Bowler at the moment.
Bleacher Report’s Michelle Burton suggested in an article published Sunday, May 1, that if they don’t find a way to secure Waller’s services before the start of next season, Rudolph makes sense as a game for Green Bay.