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Vikings place Kyle Rudolph on injured reserve, will tight end return next season?

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Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) warms up before the start of an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Chicago. Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Is Kyle Rudolph’s time with the Vikings finished?

That is a possibility after the veteran tight end was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. The Vikings will conclude the season on Sunday in Detroit. Rudolph, who has missed the past three games because of a foot injury, had a consecutive games streak of 93 (98 including playoffs) before sitting out on Dec. 13 in Tampa Bay. He had not missed a game since Dec. 21, 2014 in Miami. Rudolph’s streak ranked No. 1 among active tight ends and sixth overall among active players, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

A second-round pick of the Vikings in 2011 from Notre Dame, Rudolph has three years remaining on the four-year, $36 million contract ($9.3 million guaranteed) he signed in June 2019. The 31-year-old is due a base salary of $7.65 million in 2021 and would have a salary-cap figure of $9.45 million. The Vikings would carry $4.35 million in dead money next season, if they were to cut ties with Rudolph.

Rudolph long has been atop the depth chart at tight end, but Irv Smith Jr., a second-round pick in 2019, continues to develop and 2018 fifth-round pick Tyler Conklin has proven to be an excellent replacement for Rudolph. Conklin has 16 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in 15 games this season, including 12 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown in the past three games. The Vikings could use the money they would save by cutting Rudolph to address other needs.

The Vikings replaced Rudolph on the roster by signing guard Kyle Hinton to the active roster.