Tight end John Carlson, a Seahawks second-round draft choice in 2008, signed Wednesday a five-year, $25 million free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings. It includes $11 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN.com.
The deal was s stunner (keep reading for stunner No. 2) since Carlson sat out all of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair a torn labrum, and didn’t seem to figure heavily into the Seahawks’ plans because his blocking wasn’t what coach Pete Carroll wanted.
Carlson, who went to high school near Minneapolis before going to Notre Dame, was destined to be the second tight end in Seattle behind Zach Miller, who was acquired in free agency last season from Oakland. The Vikings also seemed to have a quality tight end in Kyle Rudolph, but Carlson reportedly received interest from at least eight teams, which drove up his free agent price.
In his rookie season, Carlson set the franchise record for tight ends in receptions (55) and yards (627). He had 51 catches in 2009 but the total dropped to 31 in 2010 as Carroll used Carlson more in pass protection because of an injury-riddled offensive line.
Then he injured his shoulder Aug. 13 in training camp, and on Aug. 30 came the news he would be lost for the year. Miller, however, was even less productive in the passing game, with 28 receptions and a long of 28 yards with no touchdowns. He too, was asked to help protect new quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
“Were certainly going to miss John, Carroll said at the time of his injury. We were really counting on him having a fantastic year for us. So thats a big loss for us.
Perhaps as stunning as Carlson’s bolt for Minnesota is that former Seahawk All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson, who made a controversial exit to the Vikings after the 2005 season, was taking a visit to Seahawks headquarters Wednesday. Hutchinson made three Pro Bowls during his tenure with the Seahawks and four more with Minnesota.
He’s 34now and became expendable in Minnesota in the wake of a youth movement and salary-cap concerns. He also visited the Tennessee Titans, and it’s unclear how aggressively Seattle will chase him, if at all.
In related free agent news, quarterback Matt Flynn is reported to be ready to take a visit with the Seahawks Thursday. Flynn, who made a big reputation for himself in two starts in Green Bay, is the No. 2 free agent quarterback behind Peyton Manning, who was reported by various media outlets to be in Nashville Wednesday to hear a pitch from the Titans. Former Miami quarterback Chad Henne will also visit Seattle.
If Manning, who played college ball for Tennessee, ended up a Titan, he would displace former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck, who had a good season in the first of a three-year deal to be a bridge to Jake Locker, the former University of Washington quarterback who backed up Hasselbeck.
Henne doesn’t seem like a long-term solution for Seattle. He has 31 touchdowns, 37 interceptions and a 13-18 record in Miami.
Free Agents Signed
|Feb. 10||*Breno Giacomini||OL||$1.5 million base in 2012, $3 million in 2013|
|March 4||*Marshawn Lynch||RB||4 years, $31 million, $18m guaranteed|
|March 14||*Red Bryant||DE||5 years, $35 million, $14m guaranteed|
|March 14||*Heath Farwell||LB||Contract terms not yet disclosed|
Free Agents Lost
|March 14||Roy Lewis||CB||Seahawks did not offer 1-year tender|
|March 15||John Carlson||TE||5 years, $25 million with Vikings|
*=Own free agent