Rick Spielman has received plenty of love over the last couple years for his drafting genius and prudent way with money. But even the mastermind Spielman has made his mistakes. Probably the largest black mark on his record so far has been the 2012 signing of John Carlson.
Spielman gave the not-exactly-sought-after tight end a $25 million, five-year contract coming off an injury season in Seattle. Observers scratched their heads at the time, and scratched them even more as the season progressed and Carlson remained a complete non-factor in the offense.
Was the terrible performance entirely Carlson’s fault? Probably not. You must lay some blame at the feet of Christian Ponder who does not exactly excel at maximizing the talent around him. And you have to also factor in the preseason injury that put Carlson behind the game in learning Bill Musgrave’s offense.
But there’s also the possibility that Carlson just isn’t a good player and would not have done anything significant even with a better QB and more practice time in the early-going.
Any way you slice it, the Carlson signing was bad one. The Vikings more-or-less acknowledged this in the 2013 offseason by forcing Carlson to renegotiate his deal. This doesn’t get back the money they wasted on him in 2012 but it at least softens the blow going forward.
The good news for Carlson? He still has a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of fans. The Viking PR department is only too happy to help this process. Hence the glowing reports coming out about Carlson after day one of minicamp.
According to Bagdad Bob, Carlson really stood out in Tuesday’s drills. And this was going up against our linebackers who we know are all so great in coverage. If Carlson keeps this up, he will be soon be pushing Kyle Rudolph for the #1 tight end spot. Could an All-Pro campaign be in the offing?
All kidding aside, let’s hope there is at least some truth to the Carlson PR spin. Obviously Bill Musgrave wants to heavily feature the #2 TE in this offense or he would not have encouraged Spielman to pursue Carlson last year. And Carlson would not have been kept around for season 2.
A productive Carlson, I hazard to say, is probably essential to this offense working the way Musgrave envisions. So keep getting after it John. Like it or not, we kind of need you. And don’t worry. Eventually Ponder will learn to go past his first read and you’ll get a couple balls thrown your way.