Free Agent Frenzy: Minnesota Vikings Sign Tight End John Carlson

Tanner ThomsSenior Analyst IMarch 14, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08:  Tight end John Carlson #89 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates his 11-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

After an entirely quiet day that consisted of just one re-signing (Letroy Guion), the Minnesota Vikings have finally made an acquisition.

John Carlson, a former second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, signed a five-year, $25 million with the Vikings on Wednesday afternoon.

However, that may come as quite the surprise to many, as Vikings fans feel that second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph was ready to step in as the top tight end on the roster.

Carlson, in his four seasons with the Seahawks, caught 132 passes for 15 touchdowns in only 43 games. Although not great numbers, Carlson did this as the second, and often times third or fourth, option.

With Bill Musgrave at offensive coordinator, the Vikings are prone to running two tight end sets on a frequent basis. Therefore, while it may seem like an idiotic signing right now, it will likely benefit Minnesota in the near future.

There are quite a few teams in the league today that run two tight end sets. Teams like the New England Patriots run this offense, as they have two extremely talented tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Carlson grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he went on to earn All-State honors in high school. He graduated from Litchfield High School in 2003, and then took his talents to Notre Dame.

Carlson and Rudolph, who both went to Notre Dame, are basically guaranteed to have instant chemistry. Rudolph and Christian Ponder quickly became friends in the early days of the Vikings' training camp, which caused the two to have an immediate connection in the passing game.

At just 27 years old, Carlson's best days are still ahead of him. If he's able to find a quarterback with a shred of consistency, he will put up big numbers.

The signing the Vikings made today is strictly to make their offense more dynamic and complex for defenses. Two tight end sets allow receivers more chances to get open, and it also allows for an extra blocker on most downs.

Although Minnesota may have overpaid in their pursuit, they had to so in order to outbid other teams. It was rumored that Kansas City's final offer was in the same area as Minnesota's.

Therefore, while Carlson did miss all of 2011 with an injury, teams around the NFL know of his talent and potential. If he was really that average of a player, Minnesota would have likely skipped out on making the move.

Visanthe Shiancoe, who is also a free agent, is a lock not to return to the Vikings next year. This would have left Allen Reisner as Minnesota's No. 2 tight end.

As I mentioned before, signing John Carlson seems pointless on the surface, but it is crucial in the future of the team and its offense.

While this is just their first signing, Minnesota is far from done in free agency. They still have to lock up Erin Henderson to a long-term contract, as well as signing a potential starting receiver or cornerback.

If any more signings transpire today on Minnesota's end, I will be posting them as soon as possible. However, it looks like the Vikings will be taking a slow approach to free agency this spring.