John Carlson may not be the flashiest of the Arizona Cardinals’ free agent signings, but he may prove to be one of the most important.
He’s coming off a 32-catch, 344-yard, one-touchdown performance in a 2013 campaign that was cut short due to a concussion, but prior to his two-year stint with the Vikings, Carlson caught 137 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2008-2010, all with Seattle.
Now he’s back in the NFC West, albeit with a former rival. He has his reasons.
“The 10-6 record last year, winning seven of the last nine in a tough, tough division — that’s exciting to me,” he told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday. “There are a lot of pieces in place already.
“The leadership in the organization stuck out to me.”
Carlson praised the team’s ownership and front office before adding that head coach Bruce Arians also made Arizona an enticing option.
So, the 29-year-old comes to the Cardinals looking to win and, maybe, get his career back on track.
“I think any opportunity you get in the NFL is a blessing and I feel very fortunate to have this next opportunity with the Cardinals,” he said. “The time in Minnesota, it didn’t go the way I wanted it or expected it to go.
“A lot of it was due to injuries and setbacks of that sort. But my mindset going forward, it’s the same as always: I’m going to do everything I can to be as physically prepared as I can be to be as good a player as I can be and hopefully earn a role in the offense and in the system and be productive.”
Saying he doesn’t focus on what happened in the past, Carlson added all he’s worried about is what can happen in the future, which is now in Arizona.
As far as the tight end position goes, Carlson joins a pretty thin group. Rob Housler and Jake Ballard are the only two on the roster who made a significant contribution last season, though neither has a stranglehold on the job.
Arians also likes to employ multiple tight ends at times, which means Carlson could be on the field quite a bit in a variety of roles, which is fine with him.
“I pride myself on being a well-rounded player that can do the things that the tight end position group is asked to do,” he said, pointing to both blocking and receiving. But, he noted that every tight end would like to be a part of a team’s passing game.
“I feel that I’m capable of doing that and would like to do that for this team,” he said. “But being well-rounded is something I pride myself on and continually work on.
“I have weaknesses in my game as all players do, but I’m going to do the best I can to be that guy that can do all those things on the field.”