Free-agent tight end Kyle Rudolph is interested in signing with the New England Patriots, a source with knowledge of the situation told NESN.com on Wednesday.
The Patriots have shown major interest in Rudolph in the past, whom they tried to trade for as recently as two years ago.
Rudolph, 31, caught 28 passes for 334 yards with one touchdown in 12 games last season. He’s a two-time Pro Bowl selection who’s also an effective in-line blocker at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds.
Rudolph’s best season came in 2016 when he caught 83 passes for 840 yards with seven touchdowns. He caught 64 passes for 634 yards with four touchdowns in 2018 and 39 passes for 367 yards with six touchdowns in 2019.
The Patriots currently have 2020 third-round picks Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene and veteran options Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse on their 90-man roster. New England is expected to add to its tight end group through free agency, a trade or the draft after a lack of production from the position over the last two years. Patriots tight ends only caught 18 passes for 254 yards with no touchdowns last season. Fifty of those yards came on one deep completion from quarterback Cam Newton to Izzo on a failed Hail Mary attempt.
Rudolph is available to sign before free agency officially begins on March 17. Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Gerald Everett and Dan Arnold also are set to hit free agency.
Rudolph would be an ideal bridge option for New England until Asiasi and Keene prove they can develop into productive NFL players.