Arizona Cardinals TE John Carlson Retires
The Arizona Cardinals are going to have to move in a different direction at tight end. That decision was made for them recently, as starting tight end John Carlson has reportedly decided to retire.
Carlson didn’t come out and say it, but retiring at 30 years old probably says it all – he got out while the gettin’ was good. Already dealing with a history of concussions before this off-season, Carlson seems to have seen the writing on the wall with other big names like Patrick Willis, Jason Worilds and Chris Borland all retiring for health reasons.
Willis cited a troublesome toe injury and an inability to continue to play at an elite level, while Borland was never shy about his fear of brain damage with a prolonged playing career.
Whether Carlson was following a trend or not, he was simply looking out for his family’s best interests and no one within or outside the Cardinals organization will fault him for that.
Niklas enjoyed seven long seasons in the league with three different franchises. He caught 33 balls and a touchdown to cap his career in 2014, in which he finished with 210 career receptions and 15 touchdowns.
Carlson joins ex-Cardinals tight end Rob Housler in his exit, as the Cardinals are now down to second-year tight end, Troy Niklas. The odd part is Niklas is the superior talent to both Housler (who signed with the Cleveland Browns) and Carlson, but injury and inexperience kept him from making an impact as a rookie in 2014.
With the starting gig staring him in the face, it looks like Niklas will be a near-lock to see the field a lot more in 2015. Thanks to great size and a balanced skill-set, that could mean good things for him and Arizona’s passing game.
Two good things come out of John Carlson’s retirement. First, that a still relatively young 30-year old can walk away from the game unscathed and proudly say he spent seven solid seasons at football’s highest level.
The second is that as solid as Carlson was, Arizona doesn’t rely heavily on the tight end position in the passing game. The duties of starting tight end are probably going to be thrust on a second-year player, but ready or not, what Troy Niklas does in 2015 probably won’t make or break Arizona’s bid for a deep playoff run. Their ability to get back to the playoffs and win a game or two will hang much more on the health and play of Carson Palmer, as well as a defense that was a top-five unit as recent as a season ago.
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