John Carlson

NFC Notes: Carlson, Okung, Thomas

Former Cardinals tight end John Carlson unexpectedly announced his retirement in May, leaving Arizona searching for a veteran replacement this summer. As Carlson tells Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune, he considered the health risks inherent in continuing to play after suffering multiple concussions when he made his decision. But with three kids under the age of five at home, he admits that his priorities were shifting as well.

“It was clear already that I didn’t have that same passion and love for the game that I had in the past,” Carlson said, adding that committing so much time to the NFL meant he wasn’t “nearly the husband and father” he wanted to be.

While Carlson adjusts to retirement, the Cardinals are eyeing possible free agent alternatives like Jermaine Gresham and Chris Cooley. Here’s more from across the NFC:

  • Seahawks tackle Russell Okung, who has parted ways with his agent, is consulting with agents and may hire one to assist with his contract, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Okung would pay that consultant a flat fee rather than a percentage of his new deal.
  • Meanwhile, Okung tells Josina Anderson of (Twitter link) that he’s “optimistic” about his future with the Seahawks and will be speaking with the team soon about his situation. I’d speculated earlier this week that Okung may prefer to wait until after the season to discuss his contract, so as not to interfere with his on-field performance this summer.
  • With Okung planning to negotiate his own deal, and Giants running back Rashad Jennings encouraging other players to do the same (as Nick Powell of writes), Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk lists several things an agent can do to help a player and earn his commission, outside of simply negotiating a contract. It’s worth approaching any praise of agents from reporters with a critical eye – since agents are often the sources of insider information for those reporters – but Florio’s breakdown is a good one.
  • Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, recovering from shoulder surgery, acknowledges to Ed Werder of that he’s not sure if he’ll be ready to go when the regular season gets underway.
  • With their division rivals making roster upgrades this offseason, Chip Kelly and the Eagles decided Philadelphia’s upside wasn’t quite high enough, and the team couldn’t afford to stand pat, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News in a look at the NFC East.

NFC Notes: Cards, Washington, Bears

While John Carlson‘s retirement announcement today came as a surprise to many observers, the Cardinals‘ football people weren’t shocked by the news, per Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links). However, Somers notes that the team wasn’t aware of Carlson’s plan prior to the draft, so it’s fair to wonder if Arizona might’ve taken a tight end a little earlier — the team selected Louisville’s Gerald Christian with the 256th and final pick in this year’s draft, making him 2015’s “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • After selecting running back Matt Jones in the draft last week, Washington is no longer in the market for veteran free agent Pierre Thomas, tweets’s John Keim.
  • Following the 2015 draft, the Bears’ front office is undergoing some major changes under new general manager Ryan Pace. As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune details, college scouting director Marty Barrett won’t have his contract renewed after 18 years with the franchise. Meanwhile, Adam Caplan of tweets that Jay Muraco is out as Chicago’s East Coast scout, confirming a report from Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague (Twitter link). A source tells Alex Marvez of Fox Sports (Twitter link) that Barrett figures to land with the Jets, while Caplan tweets that Muraco may resurface with the Falcons.
  • Speaking to Jeff Dickerson of, Pace explained why the Bears decided not to use one of their six picks on a quarterback during the draft.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap takes a closer look at the specific numbers in Jameis Winston‘s rookie contract with the Buccaneers, and how they reflect the changes in the overall rookie salary pool. So far, Winston is the only rookie reported to have officially signed his contract.
  • Panthers special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven is taking a medical leave of absence to deal with a “serious health situation,” and will be replaced in the interim by Russ Purnell, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.

John Carlson Announces Retirement

Veteran Cardinals tight end John Carlson has announced his retirement from the NFL, according to Darren Urban of 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.

Cardinals Sign John Carlson

3:15pm: Carlson’s two-year contract is worth $4.65MM, says Ian Rapoport of (via Twitter).

3:05pm: The Cardinals have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with free agent tight end John Carlson, reports Adam Schefter of (via Twitter). Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic first reported this afternoon (via Twitter) that the Cards were “working on a deal” for Carlson, who met with the team yesterday after being released by the Vikings earlier this week.

Carlson, who was also drawing interest from the Jets and Packers, as we heard yesterday, recorded a total of 40 receptions for 387 yards in his two seasons with the Vikings as the team’s second tight end behind Kyle Rudolph. Carlson was said to be considering retirement this offseason after suffering his third concussion during the 2013 season, but decided to continue his playing career.

The 29-year-old can be an effective weapon in a team’s passing game when he’s healthy, but as Tom Pelissero of USA Today notes (via Twitter), Carlson hasn’t really been 100% since the 2010 season. He’ll join an Arizona team that didn’t feature a top receiving threat at tight end during the 2013 season. Rob Housler and Jim Dray led the way in tight end receptions for the club, combining to catch 65 balls.

Extra Points: Jackson, Carlson, Quarless

The agent for D’Qwell Jackson says that his client asked for his release from the Browns and adds that his client is happy to be with the Colts, tweets Jeff Schudel of The News-Herald. Cleveland would have owed Jackson a $4MM roster bonus on March 16th but they cut him loose well in advance. This could be a case of Jackson’s agent trying to put a positive spin on things – it’s more likely that the Browns asked him to take a pay cut that was too steep for his liking.

  • The Jets and Packers are among the clubs with interest in tight end John Carlson, tweets Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. We learned earlier that Carlson, who was cut loose by the Vikings, is meeting with the Cardinals today.
  • The Packers are talking to tight end Andrew Quarless about a new deal before he hits the open market on Thursday, writes Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel. Of course, there’s also uncertainty surrounding the future of fellow tight end Jermichael Finley this offseason, but bringing back Quarless, who hauled in 32 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns, could give them more certainty at the position.
  • There’s mutual interest between the Bears and linebacker D.J. Williams in working out a new deal, tweets Michael C. Wright of ESPN. The two sides are talking and that’s expected to continue through the weekend. The former University of Miami standout spent his whole career in Denver up until 2013 when he joined Chicago. Unfortunately, his season ended when he ruptured his pectoral tendon against the Giants in Week 6.
  • Brandon Smith got a two-year deal from the Bills, tweets Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The cornerback was an exclusive rights free agent for Buffalo and accepted his offer earlier today.
  • The Cowboys are interested in TCU prospect Jason Verrett, writes’s Calvin Watkins. The cornerback is a potential late-first round/early-second round pick, despite the fact that he is recovering from a torn labrum. “[The doctors] feel like it’s gonna be a very short process,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Everybody that’s done it has been able to be back before camp. On the high road, I think that’s what he’s anticipating. That he’ll be back before camp.”
  • Steve Serby of the New York Post is less-than-thrilled about the idea of the Jets signing Michael Vick.
  • Former Jaguars wide receiver Mike-Sims Walker was released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Carlson, Bryant

When they locked him up to a three-year extension last week, the 49ers made Daniel Kilgore one of the first members of the 2011 draft class to receive a second contract, and seemingly signaled that he’ll be the team’s new starting center. However, in his latest piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, Eric Branch explains why he thinks the Niners might bring in a free agent center to compete with Kilgore for the job. Here’s more out of the NFC West:

  • The 49ers and cornerback Tarell Brown are still talking as the start of the free agency period looms, writes Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. The 29-year-old unknowingly forfeited a $2MM workout bonus by training at home instead of Santa Clara last season and suffered a rib injury in November that caused him to miss three games, allowing Tramaine Brock to take over as the starter. Brown, however, started all three of the 49ers’ playoff games, showing that the club values him.
  • John Carlson, who was released by the Vikings yesterday, hasn’t wasted any time in looking for a new home. The free agent tight end is meeting with the Cardinals today, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.
  • There’s a strong market for free agent defensive tackle Red Bryant, who was released last week by the Seahawks, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Rapoport believes that it’s likely that Bryant will land a deal before the start of the free agency period.
  • In his latest Insider-only piece for, Mike Sando details five free agent fits he likes, including defensive tackle Earl Mitchell to the Seahawks.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vikings Release John Carlson

WEDNESDAY, 1:41pm: The Vikings have officially released Carlson, the team announced today (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 3:21pm: Although the Vikings and John Carlson had been in talks about a potential restructure of the tight end’s contract, the two sides failed to reach an agreement, and the team will instead release Carlson, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1 (Twitter link). Carlson had three years remaining on his contract, but rather than hitting the open market after the 2016 season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent immediately.

Carlson, 29, recorded a total of 40 receptions for 387 yards in his two seasons with the Vikings as the team’s second tight end behind Kyle Rudolph. Carlson was said to be considering retirement this offseason after suffering his third concussion during the 2013 season, but it appears he’ll continue his playing career, assuming he catches on with another club.

With the move, the Vikings will eliminate Carlson’s $5MM cap number for 2014 from their books, but will be left with $3MM in dead money, for a total of $2MM in cap savings.