The New England Patriots are facing plenty of questions at the tight end position following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. With neither the future Hall of Famer nor 2018 squad members Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister a part of the equation anymore, the team is looking at a competition for the roster spots at tight end between Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Benjamin Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson and Andrew Beck.
There is still a chance that other players get added to the mix, however. One of them might be Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who could be on the trade block after contract negotiations between player and team were reportedly cut off earlier this month. As first mentioned by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Patriots have “talked with Minnesota about Kyle Rudolph” — although no further details were provided.
As previously noted, Rudolph would be an intriguing target for New England: he was a reliable presence in the passing game for the Vikings last year and finished the season with 64 receptions for 634 yards and 4 touchdowns. The 29-year-old certainly is still a serviceable player despite some inconsistencies as a run blocker, but he also comes with a comparatively hefty salary cap hit of $7.625 million this year.
As things stand right now, the Patriots would not be able to afford Rudolph at his current price tag: the team has under $4 million in cap space to operate with, according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan, and would need to find a way to significantly lower his cap impact for the 2019 season if it were to acquire him. New England’s talks with the Vikings might therefore have been little more than the expression of general interest in a player expected to become available for a late-round draft pick.
That being said, the Patriots are known for their financial savvy: they would likely find a way to either lower Rudolph’s cap hit or free up space in another way if they felt was a player they needed to get onto their squad. There is little indication beyond Breer’s report at this point in time when it comes to that, but things can move fast in the NFL — and rumors pick up steam quickly to turn into possible transactions.