It’s been regurgitated numerous times over the last several months that the New England Patriots have a ton of work to do this offseason if they have any hope of getting back into the playoffs in 2021.
Finding a quarterback is clearly atop their list of priorities, but what sane free agent would consider signing with the Patriots with their current assortment of pass catchers, which is still indisputably the worst in the league?
With that in mind, New England would be smart to upgrade their wide receiver and tight end personnel before they splurge on a quarterback.
Conveniently enough, however, a viable option at tight end was just made available and could presumably be acquired for a relatively cheap price.
The Vikings surprisingly released veteran Kyle Rudolph on Tuesday and Patriots reporter Doug Kyed of NESN is of the understanding that the veteran would be interested in signing with New England, who actually tried trading for him two years ago.
Should the Patriots pursue Kyle Rudolph following his release from the Vikings?
Rudolph’s contract accounted for a combined cap hit of $31.4 million over the next three seasons, so it makes sense why the financially-limited Vikings decided to part ways with him. It goes without saying that the 31-year-old vet won’t go for anything close to that on the open market, and that makes him a real candidate to land with the Patriots.
If Rudolph is as interested as signing with New England as this report suggests, then perhaps he understands it might have to come at a bit of a discount given the fact the Pats have four tight ends right now. It’s worth noting that going bargain shopping at the tight end position would allow Belichick and Co. to spend even more money on other positions of need — like wide receiver, defensive end, and potentially linebacker.
Rudolph is coming off a down year for his standards, logging 28 catches for 334 yards and just one touchdown in 12 games. However, that can largely be attributed to 2019 second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. leapfrogging him in the pecking order in light of an impressive sophomore season.
Not to mention, the Vikings offense was heavily catered towards running back Dalvin Cook and star wide receiver tandem Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. There was only so many targets to go around, and Rudolph, more often than not, was utilized as a blocking specialist.
Speaking of which, head coach Bill Belichick loves himself a complete tight end and Rudolph would offer the full package with his soft hands and blocking abilities. The two-time Pro Bowler also fits the age/experience profile the Patriots tend to target in free agency. Seriously, what’s not to like?
Rudolph might not be the dynamic star Patriots fans have been asking for in the wake of former starter Rob Gronkowski’s retirement in 2019, but they could do significantly worse than sign the 10-year veteran to be their starting tight end, especially with how bad things have been the last two seasons. If anything Rudolph could provide stability for the next guy in line, whomever that may be.