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ESPN writer: John Carlson signing risky for Cardinals, but worth the reward

The Arizona Cardinals bolstered their tight end corps by signing 29-year-old veteran John Carlson to a two-year deal Friday.

At the very least, Carlson, who was waived by Minnesota earlier in the week, adds depth at tight end for the Cardinals. However, if he can get back to the form he showed in his first two seasons in the league (both with the Seattle Seahawks), he could emerge as Arizona’s No. 1 option at the spot.

The 6-foot-5, 248-pound tight end missed the last three games of 2013 after he suffered the third concussion of his career. He reportedly considered retirement before he was released by the Vikings.

Carlson caught 32 balls for 344 yards and one touchdown in 13 games last season before the injury. His most prolific season was his rookie year, 2008, when he had 55 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns. His sophomore season was strong as well: Fifty-one catches, 574 yards and a career-high seven TDs. He did not miss a game in either of those first two campaigns, but hasn’t played in all 16 games in any season since.

Based on the Notre Dame product’s health history, ESPN writer Josh Weinfuss says the move is risky for the Cardinals.

If Carlson suffers another head injury, it’s likely his career will be over. That’s the risk — which is much greater for Carlson than the Cardinals — but Arizona can benefit from Carlson even as a third tight end, filling Ballard’s role from 2013.

But Weinfuss seems to think that Arizona didn’t make the move with the expectation that Carlson will be a franchise player, or even a No. 1 option. He concludes that with signing the tight end, “the reward is greater than the risk.” He also notes that the Cardinals won’t stand pat in regards to the position after Friday’s move.

Arizona won’t stop looking for tight ends. The Cards will continue combing through the waiver wire, looking through free agency and scouring the draft boards for another tight end in case Carlson doesn’t work out.

Carlson’s two-year deal is worth $4.65 million, reported.

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