Earlier today, we took a look at what Pro Football Focus had to say about the contract of defensive tackle Linval Joseph, as they named it one of the most team-friendly deals for interior defenders in the NFL. In continuing to look at what PFF has to offer. . .because, seriously, there's not a whole lot else going on right now. . .they have a couple of Vikings' contracts that they deem as much more "player friendly" than "team friendly."
One of those contracts belongs to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who signed a big contract extension before the 2014 season. His average cap hit over the next four. . .yes, four. . .years is $7.2 million, and according to PFF couldn't realistically be cut until 2017. Here's what they had to say about his deal.
Kyle Rudolph is similar to (Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne) Allen in that his best performance came at the start of his career, and he hasn't played as well since—thought not to the same extremes as the Colts TE. He was a top-16 tight end in run-blocking each of his first two years in the league, but had a PFF grade of 45.7 in run-blocking last year. Over the course of his career, he's been a slightly-better-than-average receiver, but has never topped 550 receiving yards. He's generally been good when the ball is in his hands, but he consistently hasn't been thrown to enough. Last season, he was targeted on 15.8 percent of his passing routes last, the second-lowest rate for tight ends with at least 400 routes run.
The contract extension he signed in 2014 came under the impression that he would continue to build off his first few years, but his play hasn't been on the rise. If Rudolph doesn't become a bigger part of the Vikings' offense over the next year or two, it wouldn't be surprising if he is released because he simply hasn't been worth the money Minnesota is paying him.
Rudolph is one of those players that we, seemingly, go into every year with high expectations for. With the exception of the 2012 season, he's managed to underperform them. With the Vikings developing Teddy Bridgewater over the past couple of years, you would think that a tight end would be able to thrive as a "safety blanket" for a young quarterback, but that hasn't been the case. With MyCole Pruitt having shown flashes last year and potentially waiting in the wings to be Rudolph's replacement, he needs to step up this year or risk being out of a job if the Vikings need cap space during the next offseason.
Not surprisingly, PFFs other pick for a bad contract belongs to running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has two years left on his contract at an average cap hit of a whopping $15 million/year. His cap hit for the 2016 season is "only" $12 million, and he has a $18 million hit for the 2017 season, though the team could cut him and not have to pay a penny for that season.
Peterson remains an excellent runner, but his contract figures are absurd. No other back had a cap hit in 2016 higher than $9.55 million—Peterson's is $12 million. He signed a three-year, $44 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. The figures are simply mind-boggling compared with others at his position. The Viking may be the best pure runner in the league, but his $15 million average per season is almost double McCoy's second-place average of $8 million.
As well as the excessive cost, Peterson's deficiencies in the passing game make him overpaid. He has earned strongly negative career grades in pass protection and as a receiver, making him ill-suited to a third down role. The other issue is ball security; he fumbled six times in 2015, taking his total to 34 in nine seasons. We wouldn't expect his next contract to come close to the one he signed three years ago.
They're not really saying anything we haven't said numerous times in this space before. If Peterson wants to be a member of the Vikings beyond the 2016 season, he's probably going to have to work out a team-friendly extension before that huge hit kicks in at the start of the 2017 league year. I honestly don't see a scenario where Peterson gets $18 million from the Vikings next season. I know that the Vikings paid Jared Allen a lot of money in his final year, but defensive linemen tend to have a longer shelf life than running backs do in the NFL.
With as many great contracts as the Vikings have with the young talent they've amassed, there are a couple that could be a little more team-friendly. I'm sure that Rob Brzezinski and company will remedy that sooner rather than later.