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Vikings Already Have an Easy Answer to Replace Kyle Rudolph

Max Staley
Minnesota Vikings have a perfect replacement for Kyle Rudolph.
Minnesota Vikings have a perfect replacement for Kyle Rudolph. / Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
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The Minnesota Vikings have released two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph. With the organization being up against the cap, the decision was clearly made to free up some cap space this offseason.

But Minnesota likely wouldn't have done this if it didn't already have a readymade replacement for the 10-year veteran – Irv Smith Jr.

Smith was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, though he hasn't been given the chance to do much as he's been buried behind Rudolph. With Rudolph out of the way, Smith should assume a prominent role in the Vikings' passing game in 2021.

And that could be a good thing for this offense. When Smith has been given the chance, he's showed some real promise.

Rudolph missed the Vikings' last four games of the 2020 season, and Smith stepped up in a big way. He averaged 3.8 receptions for 45.8 receiving yards on 5.0 targets per contest across that four-game stretch. He also added 3 touchdowns.

Notably, Rudolph has only averaged more than 40.0 receiving yards once in his 10 NFL seasons (2016).

While Smith isn't the blocker that Rudolph is, his pass-catching ability should allow Minnesota to make a seamless transition into the post-Rudolph era.


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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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