After losing TEs Visanthe Shiancoe and Jim Kleinsasser, the Vikings most certainly needed to add another TE to team with second-year player Kyle Rudolph. Carlson has good size at 6'5" and 251 lbs, and is a Minnesota native.
The Vikings seem to be taking a page out of the Patriots' playbook, preferring to use dual-TE sets in exchange for lacking a true No. 1 receiver. While neither Rudolph or Carlson are near the players Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez are, they each have the potential to each approach 700 yards per season.
Carlson missed all of 2011 with an injury, so it was surprising to see the Vikings sign the 27-year-old to a contract averaging $5 million per season. But Carlson is a very good pass-catcher and a solid blocker.
If this is the Vikings' answer to lacking a No. 1 receiver, it leaves the team in a great place over the middle of the field, but still lacking a threat on the outside. They still need to add a vertical threat to play opposite of possession WR Michael Jenkins, whether it be through the draft or finding another free agent.
Carlson will give second-year QB Christian Ponder another target and blocker, so the Vikings essentially helped address two problems with this signing. However, the Vikings need to continue to add weapons in order to help their anemic passing game.
Signing Grade: B+
I would give this signing an A if it were for less money, but overall I think it is a great pickup for the team moving forward.