Kyle Rudolph is staying put.
After an offseason filled with uncertainty, the veteran tight end ultimately signed a four-year contract extension to remain with the Minnesota Vikings. Had the Vikings actually looked to move Rudolph, many viewed the New England Patriots as a potential trade partner given their need at tight end.
Rudolph understands how these rumors came to light, especially considering his loose connection to the Patriots organization. But despite the obvious fit, it doesn’t appear the 29-year-old was all that close to taking his talents to Foxboro.
“I don’t know how real those trade possibilities were,” Rudolph told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “But, like you said, I played for Charlie (Weis). So for me, I’ve kind of followed that organization from afar since 2008 when I got my first Notre Dame playbook and we watched cut-ups from the Patriots offense that we were running. I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for what they’ve done over the last two decades. But I don’t know that there was ever any real opportunity there.
“Obviously the speculation is going to be there because of their situation at my position and then our team’s cash/cap situation and my salary. So there was kind of just a natural, like, ‘Hey, Kyle’s familiar with the offense, he played for a coach that was a coordinator there.’ ”
While Rudolph solidified his situation, question marks still loom over the Patriots’ tight end depth chart. New England tried to take a step in bolstering its depth at the position last week by trading for Michael Roberts, but the deal ultimately was nixed after the now-former Detroit Lion failed his physical. The failed trade came not long after the Patriots cut ties with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Benjamin Watson was hit with a four-game suspension.
There was no way New England was going to totally replace Rob Gronkowski, who retired this offseason, but life after the five-time Pro Bowl selection might prove to be even more difficult than the franchise thought.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports Images