The Minnesota Vikings released two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Rudolph spent 10 seasons with the Vikings since being a second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
“I got so lucky, because — I didn’t just get drafted by some team who ‘had a need at tight end,’” Rudolph wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “I didn’t just get drafted as, like, the nameless, faceless ‘#1 tight end on the board.’ I got drafted by a team that was all set in terms of need … but then drafted me anyway.
“I’ll always remember that: how the Minnesota Vikings wanted me — and wanted to bet on my potential.”
Rudolph caught 453 passes for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns in 140 games (132 starts) for Minnesota.
He set career highs of 83 receptions and 840 yards in 2016 and caught a career-best nine touchdowns in 2012. He was a Pro Bowler in 2012 and 2017.
This past season, Rudolph had 28 catches for 334 yards and one score in 12 games.
One of Rudolph’s top moments occurred when he caught the winning touchdown pass in a 26-20 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC wild-card round on Jan. 5, 2020.
Rudolph’s release was financially driven as he had two seasons remaining on a four-year, $36 million deal. The Vikings reportedly cleared $5.1 million of salary-cap space with the move.
Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer coached Rudolph for the past seven seasons and was eager to hand out praise.
“Kyle has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota,” Zimmer said in a news release.
“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 played college football at Notre Dame before the Vikings selected him with the 43rd overall pick.