The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a five-year extension with tight end Kyle Rudolph on Sunday. The deal, which will make Rudolph the fifth-highest paid tight end in the NFL, was first reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. The deal includes $19.4 million in guaranteed money and could be worth up to $40 million with incentives, according to Ben Goessling of ESPN.
Rudolph was set to play in the final year of his rookie deal, but is now under contract through the 2019 season. His first three years in the NFL were up and down. He showed promise at times and looked like a top-end tight end. Injuries, however, have kept him from producing at an elite level for a full season. He was limited to eight games last season due to a fractured foot and finished the year with 30 receptions for 313 yards. He is reportedly fully recovered from the injury and dropped 15 pounds during the offseason, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.
Despite the fact he's entering his fourth NFL season, Rudolph is still just 24 years old and has plenty of upside. Tight ends have been a major part of Norv Turner's offenses during his career and the new Viking offensive coordinator may be able to get the most out of Rudolph's receiving skills. According to Goesslin, the extension includes a $6.5 million signing bonus and $960,000 in guaranteed salary in 2014. The remaining $12 million of guaranteed money is for injury only. The base of the deal is $36.5 million with another $3.5 million available in incentives. With an average annual salary of $7.3 million, Rudolph slots in behind Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis on the list of highest-paid tight ends.
"I'm extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings," Rudolph said, via the Vikings. "I've said all along I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and, most importantly, I'm excited about where this team is going. I'm looking forward to the 2014 season and helping this organization reach our ultimate goal."