Earlier today I put up a post about a rumored trade involving Everson Griffen and the 49ers. Maybe my brain is still addled with heavy post-surgery opiates, but the tweet I used in the Griffen story had an even bigger subplot, had I been paying attention. Again, per KSTP’s Doug ‘Doogie’ Wilson:
Depending on trade offers, could see any of the three gone. What I feel confident in: Griffen and Rudolph aren't interested in taking pay cuts. What the Vikings now do is TBD.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) March 5, 2019
Although the news of Griff not wanting to re-negotiate is pretty important to how the Vikings handle him and how that plays into a potential trade, when you add Kyle Rudolph not wanting to re-do his deal into the mix, the Vikings off-season just got a lot more complicated.
Rudolph is slated to make $7.6 million in 2019, with no dead money against the cap. For many, it was just assumed that part of the off-season plan was that the Vikings and Rudolph would re-do a deal to give the Vikings more cap space while giving Rudolph more guaranteed money spread out over a couple more years, or something similar.
I kind of expected that the Vikings would get an extra $3-4 million in cap space in a new Rudolph deal, but if that doesn’t happen, then there’s a couple of different ripple effects that can play out.
The first one is that the Vikings simply cut Rudolph and draft his replacement early. Yes, it gives the Vike an additional $7 million in cap space, but now they add another glaring need in their ever growing list of them that will need to be filled. There are a couple of really nice TE’s available early in the draft in TJ Hockensen and Noah Fant, both from Iowa. But the Vikings also have other, bigger needs, and taking a tight end that early means they don’t address linebacker, defensive line, or offensive line.
The second thing is that they keep Rudolph and don’t go tight end early. That means David Morgan and Tyler Conklin are going to get a way more prominent role in 2019 than anyone thought even just a few days ago. Whether they can fill Rudolph’s shoes remains to be seen.
Finally, they can do nothing and let Rudolph play out his full contract. Personally, I’m always on the side of the player in these. It’s a contract, after all, and if I’m an NFL player I’m not going to give up any money if I don’t have to. On the flip side of that means the Vikings have $7 million less in cap space to deal with other needs, and if nothing happens with the Everson Griffen contract either, there won’t be much of a free agency period for the Vikings.