Will the Jaguars seek a deal for TE Kyle Rudolph?
By David Levin
Now that the Minnesota Vikings have apparently drafted a replacement for Kyle Rudolph, are the Jacksonville Jaguars a destination for the tight end?
Should the Jacksonville Jaguars look into acquiring Kyle Rudolph to help shore up their tight end position and give quarterback Nick Foles another target who is familiar with offensive coordinator John DiFilippo’s blueprint?
As soon as word got out that the Minnesota Vikings and Rudolph had broken off contract talks, it became apparent the NFC North team could be shopping the big tight end. The team drafted Irv Smith, Jr. last month as Rudolph’s eventual replacement, which further added to speculation that the former second-round pick out of Notre Dame in the 2011 NFL Draft could be on the move.
It’s a topic Mike Phillips of FanSided addressed, as he looked at five teams that should try to acquire Rudolph’s services. Of course, the Jaguars, a team in need of tight end help, was one of those franchises on his short list.
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"“Good tight ends are hard to find in the NFL, and the Minnesota Vikings have had one for a while in veteran Kyle Rudolph,” Phillips wrote. “Rudolph, always a dependable blocker, caught 64 passes for 634 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 and is a reasonable bet to duplicate those numbers in 2019."
Per Ian Rapoport, Rudolph is set to make $7.5 million this season. The Jaguars have roughly $14 million left in salary cap money and could have more to spend if they are able to use the $9.75 million allocated for Telvin Smith this coming season since the linebacker has decided he will not want to play football this season.
Having the additional money from Smith’s deal, along with the existing deal could mean the Jaguars have the cap space to make a deal for Rudolph and offer free-agent-to-be defensive end Yannick Ngakoue a contract extension.
The Jaguars got little help from the tight end position last season. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a free agent signee in 2018, playing in five games and produced one touchdown. James O’Shaughnessy led all tight ends on the roster with 24 catches and was re-signed in free agency this offseason.
Jacksonville signed Geoff Swaim from Dallas in free agency, primarily as a blocking tight end and added Josh Oliver out of San Jose State in the third round of the NFL Draft last month. Bringing in Rudolph would make this group instantly better.
"“Quarterback Nick Foles would also benefit from a safety net in the middle of the field, much like he had in Philadelphia with Zach Ertz. Rudolph isn’t as skilled as Ertz, who is still in his prime for the Eagles, but he does offer a dependable set of hands,” Added Phillips."
"“The Jaguars also like to view themselves as a power running team, and Rudolph’s presence would help them open up running lanes for Leonard Fournette. The AFC South is definitely a winnable division, so the Jaguars should take a look at landing Rudolph to try and bolster their chances of capturing the title and bringing playoff football back to Jacksonville.”"