Veteran Cardinals tight end John Carlson has announced his retirement from the NFL, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. As Urban notes, the decision comes as a surprise, since Carlson has been working out with the team during Arizona’s offseason program.
Carlson, a former second-round pick, will turn 31 next Tuesday, and was coming off a solid first season with the Cardinals. In 16 games (12 starts) for the club, the former Seahawk and Vikings totaled 33 receptions for 350 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers brought his career marks to 210 catches, 2,256 yards, and 15 TDs in 90 overall regular season contests.
While Carlson dealt with concussion issues earlier in his career, he didn’t miss a game during the 2014 season, and told Tom Pelissero of USA Today last year, “I don’t have a concussion problem.” Carlson’s retirement comes somewhat early in his career, but his statement announcing the decision didn’t make reference to health concerns.
“After much thought and consideration, my wife Danielle and I know that this is best decision for us,” Carlson said in a statement, per Urban. “I was blessed to play seven seasons in the NFL for three tremendous organizations – the Cardinals, Vikings and Seahawks. I will always treasure the experiences and relationships made during that time but I’m also very excited about the next phase of my life and what’s ahead.”
With Carlson no longer in the mix, 2014 second-rounder Troy Niklas and veteran Darren Fells figure to head up the Cardinals’ depth chart at the tight end spot. If the team isn’t satisfied with its options, it could turn to the free agent market, where players like Jermaine Gresham and Zach Miller are still available. A trade is also an option, with Martellus Bennett reportedly on the trade block, though I wouldn’t expect Arizona to make a big splash.