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Breaking Down The Carlson Signing

Once upon a time, I would get ridiculed on an annual basis for drafting Seahawks tight end John Carlson about four rounds too early in my fantasy league.  I would get laughed out of the room, in fact.

“Quit it, you guys,” I would whine.  “He’s got the potential and skill set to be the best tight end in the NFL, mark my words.”

Umm, yeah… he was usually on the waiver wires by week six.

Now, Rick Spielman finds himself on the defensive as a result of a very similar move, except the stakes are much higher.

News is spreading the Vikings have signed Carlson to a five year deal worth $25 million, with $11 million of that being guaranteed.  The move will put former Notre Dame stars Carlson and Kyle Rudolph atop the tight end depth chart in Minnesota for years to come.

A Minnesota native, Carlson was selected 38th overall by the Seahawks in 2008.  He got off to a good start, playing in all 16 games of his rookie season and catching 55 passes for 627 yards and five scores.

In his second season, he started all 16 games and caught 51 passes for 574 yards and seven touchdowns.  In 2010, the poor condition of Seattle’s offensive line meant Carlson spent a lot more time being a blocker in the offense, and his production dipped down to 31 catches, 318 yards, and only one score.

In 2011, Carlson missed the entire season due to a torn labrum.

Now, as you can tell from the opening paragraphs of this article, I think Carlson has the potential to be a star and I went so far as to single him out in my Offseason Preview of the tight ends.  However, I concluded that segment with the following warning:

“I think patience will have to be key here.  The Vikings cannot panic and overpay or reach on a Draft choice to fill their needs at tight end.

Building around Rudolph should involve nabbing a few players that present the team with low cost.  They cannot panic and offer a ton of money to Shiancoe.  They cannot panic and overpay a free agent.  They cannot panic and reach on a guy in the Draft.”

Some might view this signing as Rick Spielman panicking and overpaying, while others might view this signing as Spielman targeting the guy he coveted and making sure he got his guy, but I don’t think anyone envisioned this type of deal for Carlson.  In fact, the rumor mill suggests that Carlson was so blown away by the offer that he cancelled a trip to Kansas City and rerouted himself to Winter Park.

The Vikings obviously have placed an emphasis on finding the players that will best fit Bill Musgrave’s offensive vision, which includes a lot of two tight end sets, as they have invested one high draft pick and plenty of money into the position in the last two offseasons.  So, while the Vikings are very high on second year player Kyle Rudolph, don’t think of Carlson as a true backup player just yet, he will probably see a lot of action.

Carlson is often referred to as a poor blocker, but he was called upon to block quite a bit in Seattle and seemingly improved in this area, and his pass catching skills are fairly elite.  Christian Ponder should benefit from having one more solid pass catcher in his arsenal, and also a fairly dependable blocker when needed.  Also, Carlson is 27 years old, which is a full four years younger than Visanthe Shiancoe.

I don’t agree with those that think the Vikings didn’t have a need at the tight end position.  I don’t agree with those that think Carlson is a terrible player.

As far as whether or not they overpaid to obtain Carlson, however, I am on the fence.  A lot will depend on how the contract is structured and whether or not he can finally live up to the expectations that followed him from Notre Dame.

I will put it this way though:  I’m still not drafting him in my fantasy league this year.



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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. i have been thinking…it doesnt matter who we sign…we have the qb killing oline…its obvious were not gunna fix now were talking like were not gunna draft kalil…ponder will be hurt by week 3…webb better start on a treadmill..and stock up on qbs to get though the season…if we dont resign henderson we will have like 1 lber the draft will have to entail 2 to 3 linebackers just to have a core and if we dont do something bout our secondary …theyll score at will…it sounds like everything wants to be done through the draft…well how many picks…make it on a roster after high 4th round tbh? Its not the complete answer we need to be making moves…but were not

    1. In regards to erin henderson, Spielman’s gamble may just pay off. 28 hours into free agency and not only is there no word of any outside interest in Erin, the OLB market is slllllow overall. Not a single 4-3 OLB has signed, and none are generating much interest. There are still names out there that might be considered ahead of Henderson (i.e. Lawson, Wheeler) so maybe, just maybe, Henderson will drop his asking price and Spielman will have saved the team some dough.

      1. First off…You keep saying erin henderson is asking too much money…My question is how do you know that? Has he been offered a contract? Has he said he wants a pay out? I’m not so sure…And hes worth atleast wat guion got. In my opinion…Secondly yea there might be options out there for oline and lber cb etc….But if we arent gunna look into these options or use these options…They will dry up and get shallow…Then what good are the options available ?

        1. Erin has already stated he doesn’t want to leave Minnesota. I don’t think it’s Erin asking for too much money, its Rick having something stuck up his…..

  2. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter who we sign at TE/WR. If Ponder is running for his life after the ball is snapped, they will never be utilized and Ponder will never have a fair or fighting chance. If Ricky Bobby, decides he can fill all the holes via the draft, then I expect every pick to be a home run because they will have to be.

    1. I think Carlson, in a two tight end set, will actually help protect Ponder. However, I agree that O-line still needs addressing. Options still out there, though.

      1. How is he gunna help protect? He is a pass catching TE not much of a blocking TE from what Ive read….And the way it stands Ponder is in trouble..Where did we rank in qb sacks hurries and pressures last year..pretty high…how many times were our qbs limping? often….now we cut our 2 starting guards….hows this gunna help protection? last year was atrocious and if we dont see any improvements in personal, its gunna be even worse.

  3. Don’t like this. The guy has injury concerns and Rudoplh should be our new passing catching threat at the position. Parting ways with Shank? No problem with that. It would be nicer, IMO, to add more protection for our developing QB or a corner. A ‘bully’ type TE would have made sense to replace “Sausage’.

    Not upset about not overpaying for a mid-level WR. They need to build from the lines out. But, they’re not even doing that.

    Don’t expect much. Wilf has paid out his wazoo, comparitively to owners of the past. They won’t spend anymore than they have to until a stadium is passed. Hence Speilman’s line: ‘We’re not a player, or two away…”

  4. Ouch…torn labrum sounds awful….I mean, tearing one labia sounds awful, but both of them? Damn.