Mike Zimmer: Kyle Rudolph will be missed

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The Vikings confirmed they are making tight end Kyle Rudolph a salary cap casualty. Rudolph announced his departure from Minnesota a few minutes before the Vikings released the news.

“Kyle has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said in a statement. “He has been such an important part of this team and community throughout his career and it has been an honor to coach him the last seven seasons. He will be missed, and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Rudolph was not the first NFL player to be cut this offseason. He won’t be the last.

With the salary cap shrinking, more big-name players are going to get the pink slip.

Rudolph meant a lot to the Vikings and the Minneapolis community for what he did on and off the field. But Rudolph, 31, missed four games last season and made 28 catches for 334 yards and one touchdown last season, the third-fewest catches, the fourth-fewest yards and the fewest touchdowns in a season in his career.

He was due to make a $7.65 million base salary in 2021 and count $9.45 million against the Vikings’ salary cap.

Now, Rudolph gets to see what he can make on the free agent market after 10 seasons, two Pro Bowls, 453 catches, 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns.

It is not a day of celebration in Minnesota, though.

“From the moment we drafted Kyle as a young man out of Notre Dame in 2011, through his 10th season with the Vikings in 2020, he has been one of the premier tight ends in the NFL and most influential and positive leaders I’ve ever been around,” General Manager Rick Spielman said. “Kyle and Jordan have made such an immeasurable impact on our team and community that may never be matched. The energy they have invested in the community, most notably through the End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, is truly remarkable. I admire Kyle and we will miss him and his family. We sincerely wish them the best.”

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