Speculation is over.
Although Kyle Rudolph went on air to KFAN and expressed his desire to return to the Minnesota Vikings, there will be no cozy reunion for longtime fans and the team that created him.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on July 20 that Rudolph signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Tom Brady has a new tight ending: #Bucs is signing veteran Kyle Rudolph to a one-year contract, according to sources. A two-time Pro Bowl pick, Rudolph spent 10 years in Minnesota before playing for #Giants in 2021. Now, he’s seen as a big part of the post-Gronk planning in Tampa,” Pelissero tweeted.
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Rudolph Saw Super Bowl Potential in Vikings
Having spent the summer in Minnesota, where his family has settled for the past decade, Rudolph said he has been appreciated during his visits home over the past few months.
“I said it when I left here,” that Minnesota has always been home. “That caught my eye even more when we got back from New Jersey after last season. Whether it was at the grocery store in Wayzata or during the Timberwolves game… [or] WWE Smackdown this Friday. Chants of ‘Come Home Kyle’ broke out in the middle of one of the matches,” Rudolph said on KFAN on June 21. Being around town after being away and the amount of people saying, “we wish you were still here…” is just the amount of love myself and my family get from people around the state, that really helped us see the admiration the Vikings fans have for us and the love they’ve shown us over the last decade of our lives here. “
Entering his 12th NFL season and about to turn 33, Rudolph doesn’t have much left to pursue.
He is the “record holder” for most touchdowns at close range (48) and around 1,800 meters over Steve Jordan. He added that he wants to continue to surpass Jordan’s record and become the undisputed tightest finish in franchise history but follows further at this stage in his career – a championship.
And while Rudolph says not winning the championship in Minnesota is one of his only regrets, he chose to pursue his title ambitions with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers after waiting almost out season for what he calls “the perfect opportunity”.
“Certainly for me, there is still one thing to do here and that is to win the championship in Minnesota. Obviously, I would love to have another chance to exploit it. I talked about being counted in my next decision. I never won a Super Bowl. I would love to lift a Lombardi at some point in my career. I believe this Vikings has a chance to do that, and for sure, I’ll be open to that. “
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Insiders interested in Irv Smith Jr.
Appears on SKOR North podcast just hours before Rudolph signed, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson predicted a tight end for the veteran to sign with Tampa Bay.
Wolfson also expressed some worries about third-year contender, breakout Irv Smith Jr., who will be back from meniscus surgery after missing the entire 2021 season. Wolfson says that’s because Minnesota never hung up the phone while pursuing Rudolph so he believes there are some question marks related to Smith or the rest of the tight-knit group’s receptiveness.
“It makes me wonder what exactly is going on with Irv Smith Jr.,” said Wolfson, “Is the knee still an issue? He denied it, but we were always lied to. What is his form? How’s the knee? They had a bunch of tight tackles but apart from Irv, they didn’t have a tight catch that you really believe in.”
Smith has been an engaged player throughout the OTAs, but it remains to be seen whether he will start the season with the number of appearances.
Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt and Zach Davidson have combined for 11 catches in their entire careers as the rest of the team finished tight on the depth charts.
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https://heavy.com/sports/minnesota-vikings/kyle-rudolph-tampa-bay-buccaneers-signs/ Kyle Rudolph Denies Vikings Reunion, Signing With Bucs: Report