Kyle Rudolph says there's 'no way' he'll take a pay cut to remain with the cap-strapped Vikings

Due to the selection of a tight end in the second round of this year's draft, the team's financial situation, and his own contract, Kyle Rudolph's future with the Vikings has been called into question over the past few weeks. Nobody knows how the saga will end -- he could be traded or cut, or the two sides could rework his contract -- but we do know one way it won't end: with Rudolph taking a pay cut.

On Thursday, Rudolph told the Star Tribune's Sid Hartman that there's "no way" he'll accept a pay cut to stay with the team.

"No I won't, I am too young for that," he said.

He does, however, want to remain in Minnesota.

"Nowhere. I don't want to go anywhere," he said. "We want to stay here."

Rudolph, who carries a $7.6 million cap hit in 2019, has been the subject of trade rumors for a while now. After all, the Vikings drafted Irv Smith Jr. in the second round to be their tight end of the future and they're very low on cap space, despite Eric Kendricks recently reworking his contract to fit first-round rookie Garrett Bradbury on their payroll. Rudolph, 29, is also entering the final year of his contract. Put another way, he could be viewed as expendable for a team that is well-equipped at the skill positions with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs

While Rudolph is a solid player, he's not on the same tier as Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle. Since he entered the league in 2011, he ranks 10th in catches, 12th in receiving yards, and fourth in touchdown catches among all tight ends. It's worth noting that after seldom playing full 16-game seasons during the first half of his eight-year career, he hasn't missed a game over the past four seasons, which makes him a much more attractive trade chip. 

The Vikings still could choose to keep him, though. The two sides could always agree to an extension that lowers his cap hit this year. Even though it's been reported that contract discussions fell apart last week, Rudolph expressed optimism that a new deal might still get done.

"They're working really hard to get it done, and I hope it gets done," he said.

That's probably the best possible outcome for the Vikings considering they're in the middle of their Super Bowl window with Kirk Cousins. It doesn't really make sense to get rid of one of their better offensive players and weaken Cousins' supporting cast a year after his level of play made it clear that he isn't good enough to overcome less than ideal circumstances around him.

Regardless of how you feel about Cousins' ability, the Vikings paid him $84 million over three years to win a Super Bowl. Rudolph isn't a superstar, but he'd certainly help them reach that goal. Then again, it's also Cousins' contract that has placed the Vikings in a situation where they might not be able to afford to keep Rudolph. 

Really, that's the bigger problem facing the Vikings. The Vikings gave a huge contract to a quarterback last year, which has restricted their ability to spend money to fix their flaws, and the quarterback doesn't appear to be good enough to overcome those flaws.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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