Cardinals sign free-agent tight end Carlson

John Carlson had 32 catches last season and has 177 receptions and 14 touchdowns in his six-year career.

Brace Hemmelgarn

The Cardinals moved quickly Friday on one of their top free-agent targets, signing tight end John Carlson to a two-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported via a source that the contract is worth a total of $4.65 million.

The 29-year-old Carlson was released Wednesday by the Vikings and visited Arizona on Thursday. He spent two seasons in Minnesota after signing a five-year, $25 million deal and posted a combined 40 catches with one touchdown while the Vikings’ passing game ranked near the bottom of the league. Last season, he had 32 catches for 344 yards and a touchdown, but he missed the final three games of the year with concussion issues. He has suffered three concussions in the past three years.

Carlson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after his release that he had no plans to retire and wanted to continue playing despite the concussions.

"(T)he way it was kind of taken by other people was, ‘Oh he’s done. He’s got a concussion.’ This is football. Guys get concussions; a lot of guys cover concussions up and they hide them. I haven’t done that because I don’t want to do that.

"I value my health, and I also value my career in this opportunity. Once you shut it down, you really can’t go back."

Prior to signing with the Vikings, Carlson spent four seasons in Seattle, where he set franchise records for catches, receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end. As a rookie in 2008, he had 55 catches for 627 yards, both franchise bests, and in 2009, he had 51 catches for 574 yards and seven touchdowns. He missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury.

Overall, the 6-foot-5, 248-pound Carlson has 177 receptions for 1,906 yards and 14 touchdowns in 74 games, including 52 starts. He was originally a second-round pick (38th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame.

The Cardinals also have 2013 starter Rob Housler, who had 39 catches last season but has been inconsistent throughout his career and is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Veterans Jim Dray, Jeff King and Jake Ballard are all free agents.