Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
If the Vikings were to cut John Carlson, then tight end becomes a position of need.
When Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe roamed the Minnesota sideline and the tight end position seemed set, the Vikings surprised many and addressed the position in the second round of the 2011 draft (Kyle Rudolph).
So it's not as if this is a lock. But the position looks tight.
Rudolph was supposed to take a large leap into the "elite" category of tight ends last season. But as Minnesota's quarterback merry-go-round continued to spin, Rudolph and the rest of the receivers were hurt by the inconsistency.
A broken foot ended Rudolph's season early, but he should be back and remain as one of the better options at his position. He finished with 30 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. It's tough not to get excited about a tight end who's athletic and 6'6'" and 258 pounds.
Behind Rudolph, the Vikings have veteran John Carlson, the developing Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford.
Carlson was shut down midseason due to a concussion suffered in Week 14 but ended up catching 30 passes for 344 yards and a touchdown on the season.
He told The Star Tribune he wants to continue playing football, but time will tell if that's with Minnesota. The Vikings could save $2 million this upcoming season if they opt to cut him.
Ford showed potential as a receiver down the stretch as the Vikings played without Rudolph and Carlson. He caught seven passes for 43 yards in the season finale against Detroit and had two grabs for 55 yards in an upset of Philadelphia. He's a two-year vet at 23 years old and is under contract for 2014 at $495,000.
Ellison was drafted in 2012 to become the next Kleinsasser, and while he's not there, he's still growing.