Vikings to release tight end John Carlson

Releasing tight end John Carlson, 29, just two years into his contract will save Minnesota $2 million against the salary cap for the 2014 season.

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John Carlson didn’t want to retire after having another concussion last season. The Minnesota Vikings apparently have decided they don’t want the tight end back next year, though.

Minnesota is planning to release Carlson, the Litchfield, Minn., native who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings as a free agent in 2012, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The release, first reported by FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo, was not included in the NFL’s transactions on Tuesday.

But a source told FOXSportsNorth.com that the two sides couldn’t agree on restructuring Carlson’s contract, which called for him to be paid $5 million this season. Releasing Carlson, 29, just two years into his contract will save Minnesota $2 million against the salary cap for the 2014 season. But the Vikings already have more than $30 million dollars under the $133 million salary cap for 2014.

Carlson, whose season ended early last year because of a concussion in Week 14 against Baltimore, will count as $3 million in dead money against the cap. He had 32 catches for 344 yards last season for Minnesota, starting eight of his 13 games after tight end Kyle Rudolph suffered a season-ending foot injury.

Carlson’s return to Minnesota never went the way he or the Vikings had hoped after he was the team’s priority free-agent signing in 2012.

Carlson had missed the entire 2011 season after shoulder surgery, but it didn’t stop Minnesota from signing Carlson in the first week of free agency, giving him a surprising $5 million a year to agree to come home to his native state.

Believed to add a second receiving threat alongside Rudolph at tight end, Carlson struggled with injuries and never fulfilled his promise as a receiver until Rudolph’s injury opened the door last season.

Carlson had eight catches for 43 yards in 14 games in his first season with the Vikings. He agreed to a restructured deal last season, saving Minnesota $1.45 million against the salary cap.

Carlson has had trouble with concussions in his career. He disputed reports saying he intended to retire in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this offseason and wanted to keep playing after speaking with his family after the season.

But the Vikings didn’t want to pay Carlson the $5 million he was due this season and, ultimately, the remaining $15 million due over the next three seasons.

General manager Rick Spielman, speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis two weeks ago, said the team was pleased with its depth at the tight end position and has spoken highly of undrafted free agent Chase Ford, who had five catches for 43 yards in the season finale last year with Rudolph and Carlson out.

Minnesota will go forward at tight end with Rudolph, Ford and Rhett Ellison.

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