John Carlson Plans to Play in 2014; But Will It Be In Minnesota?


Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end John Carlson (89) against the Carolina Panthers at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Panthers defeated the Vikings 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A head injury interrupted John Carlson’s 2013 season – and just when he was starting to earn his money, finally – but the tight end won’t let a history of concussions completely derail his NFL career.

Carlson ended speculation about his future in the NFL by announcing he will play in 2014.

“I never once said I was going to retire; I said I’m going to evaluate this just like I do every year,” Carlson told the Star Tribune. “I’ve gone through that process, and I feel great.”

The process included consulting doctors, who have told Carlson he is good to go.

Whether Carlson’s career will continue in Minnesota…well that’s another question.

Carlson signed a $25 million contract in 2012 but struggled in his first season in Minnesota. His poor production led to a contract re-structure, reducing his 2013 base salary from $2.9 to $1.5 million.

Things started poorly for Carlson again in 2013, but then fortune smiled on him when #1 tight end Kyle Rudolph went down with a foot injury. More targets led to much improved production.

Carlson had all-but-shed the bust label when a concussion sent him to injured reserve, ending his resurgent season. Given his history of concussions, it was natural for people to speculate he might be finished altogether.

The Vikings now have a decision to make on Carlson. Do they keep him for $3.9 million in 2014? Do they approach him about a second re-structure? Or do they release him outright?

Given the physical demands of the tight end position, it’s a good idea to have depth at that position, but is $3.9 million a little too steep for a backup tight end?

The Vikings do have other options at that position, including Chase Ford who showed considerable promise in a short stint at the end of 2013.

Rick Spielman has stated that the Vikings may seek to trim more payroll and/or deadweight by moving on from players they currently have under contract. Carlson has value as a player, but his cap number is a tad high.

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