The Minnesota Vikings thought they were getting a productive pass-catching No. 2 tight end with John Carlson last year. They signed the free agent to a five-year/$25 million deal after he missed all of 2011 with an injury. Health wasn’t a big issue for the tight end in 2012, but for whatever reason, he just didn’t produce. In total, Carlson only racked up 43 yards on eight receptions. That cannot happen again in 2013.
Minnesota did take action because of Carlson’s lackluster performance, as they restructured his contract in 2013 from $2.9 million in base salary to $1.5 million, and they also reduced his workout bonus to $50,000. Translation – perform or this will be your last season as a Viking.
When you look back at Carlson’s career, it’s unfortunately trended downward. He had his career-high for receiving yards in his rookie season season (627), and in his last decent season in 2010, he only amassed 318 yards.
As far as 2013 is concerned, Vikings’ fans will just be glad to see Carlson get back to his 2010-level of production. Minnesota doesn’t need him to be a guy that racks up 600 yards and seven touchdowns, but it would sure help them out. While you can argue that their receiving corps is improved this season, it’s still not a strength for the team. Minnesota needs every bit of production it can get from the TE position.
Kyle Rudolph has firmly established himself as the No. 1 guy, and also as one of the rising stars in all the NFL. Now he just needs a partner in crime. If Carlson still can’t get it together, the Vikings won’t hesitate to go to Rhett Ellison. He’s currently the third-string TE and second-string FB, but he’s more than capable of moving up to the No. 2 TE spot if Minnesota needs him to.
Carlson can’t really do any worse this year than he did in 2012, but he’ll have to step up his game significantly to keep his job.
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