The Vikings have turned to home-grown talent to fortify their tight end depth chart, signing Litchfield, Minnesota native John Carlson to a free agent contract. Carlson, at 6-5, 251-pounds, has prototypical size for his position in the NFL and he’ll provide the Vikings with another athletic, pass-catching option who can create mismatches with linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field.
Carlson, who will turn 28 in May and will enter his fourth NFL season in 2012, was a 2nd-round pick (#38 overall) of Seattle’s in 2008 and was the first Seahawks rookie since Hall of Famer Steve Largent to lead the club in receptions and receiving yards, totaling 55 catches for 627 yards with five touchdowns. He logged another outstanding season in 2009 when he hauled in a career-best seven touchdowns as well as 51 receptions for 574 yards.
In total for Seattle, Carlson contributed 137 receptions for 1,519 yards and 15 touchdowns in 47 games (36 starts) over three full seasons; he missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury. Carlson was held without a catch in just four of his 47 games as a Seahawk and he set a new franchise single-season records for tight ends in receiving yardage (627) in 2008 and for touchdowns (seven) in 2009.
The highlight of his Seahawks career, though, may have come in the 2010 playoffs, when he was an integral part of Seattle’s upset win over the defending champion New Orleans Saints with two touchdown grabs.
In Minnesota, Carlson will team with fellow Notre Dame alum
Minnesota football fans are familiar with Carlson not only for his production at Notre Dame and in the NFL, but also for his accomplishments at the local high school level. He was a three-sport standout as a prep at Litchfield High School, starring in football, basketball and baseball. Along with his brother, Alex, Carlson helped Litchfield win three state basketball titles and he was also an all-state tennis player.