Carlson exit creates tight end scrutiny

Posted by Darren Urban on May 5, 2015 – 3:29 pm

The surprising decision of tight end John Carlson to retire Tuesday — after taking part in Monday’s Phase 2 on-field workout — has left the position in an interesting situation. Yes, the Cards drafted a tight end (Gerald Christian, the last pick in the draft) but you have to think the Cards might have seriously considered taking a tight end earlier had they known Carlson was about to leave the game.

(It should be noted this draft class was considered relatively weak at tight end.)

The Cardinals have high hopes for Troy Niklas, 2014’s second-round pick, and they like Darren Fells too as he makes his transition from former professional basketball player overseas. But is that enough? Is Christian enough? Can they find something they like in deep roster fodder like Ifeanyi Momah — signed after the NFL veterans combine — or Ted Bolser? You figure they’d have to consider a veteran, someone like Zach Miller or Jermaine Gresham, although the injuries for guys like that are the reason they’re still out there in the first place. Fells is a smart guy, someone I could see being a leader at some point now that Carlson is gone. But he knows where he has come from, that he had to work just to stick on the practice squad two years ago. He might not have made the roster last year if Jake Ballard hadn’t retired. Now, he’s the vet. He’s been around the longest, he’s played the most NFL games. Stunning.

Tight end has never been a crucial part of the receiving offense for the Cards, so if Niklas and Fells can provide the blocking needed, that’s what Bruce Arians seeks. Fells actually showed some hands the few times the ball was thrown his way. Still, after talking to Niklas and Fells today, it’s Carlson’s leadership that will be missed the most.


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33 Responses to “Carlson exit creates tight end scrutiny”

  1. By BIGAL on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    That’s a shame…I wonder why he waited so long…(post draft) to let us know?
    Maybe his concussion issues were more serious than thought? However, this leaves our TE group w/2 years experience tops! Woh… It must have been an extremely difficult decision for him? Anyhow, best of luck to him! Wish we’d had him 8 season’s ago!

    Now, cut that terrible other punter, “the Butler did it! The Butler only kicked it 12 yards!” I can still hear Chris Berman after last years fiasco playoff game in Carolina…”It’s blocked! The Butler did it again!” Cut him & open up another roster spot & call Zach Miller! or another UDFA! What’s the latest on Zastudil? Anybody know?

  2. By NJAzCardsFan on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    Carlson couldn’t have made this decision before the draft…???

    Maybe the Cards will find a veteran FA after the 1st or 2nd round of cuts….

    Is Foote leaning towards coaching or playing…????

  3. By BIGAL on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    Because this does leave us very inexperienced at TE position…& it sounds like he’s very well respected amongst our guys…offer him an apprentice/assistant TE
    coaching position…& maybe he can begin a new career…

  4. By Patrick Hoog aka DTL on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    On several occasions Carlson did not “look right ” last year…concussion history comes to mind. Hope he is well.

  5. By Scott H on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    Yeah, great timing on this, John. Thanks a lot for your careful consideration of the team. We really appreciate it.

    That said….even though this team really does not utilize the TE as an active part of the passing game, I think this really sucks. And it is not the kind of thing we need to kick things off as we prepare to prepare for the 2015 season. NOT after all the injuries / retirements / suspensions / un-explained absences we endured LAST off-season. That was like a damn mine field. And no matter which way we turned, we kept stepping on the damn mines!

    I swear, this better not be an omen of things to come…..

  6. By Big Ken on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    John Carlson to retire? They probably told him he would be practicing with the linemen to improve his blocking skills.

  7. By Scott H on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    BIGAL –

    I hear ya about Butler. He was just SOOOO bloody-God awful and it remains in-explicable to me that he kept his job after so many REALLY bad performances. I mean….damn, did they just not care about the special teams??? Because if they DID, then HOW did this guy keep his job???? He absolutely KILLED us so many times either with blocked kicks or punts that left opposing teams taking over inside Cardinals territory. Why the hell would we even bother having him around again??? I could shake the tree in my front yard and have a better punter than him fall out of it.

  8. By Colby on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    BigAL, Zasty is fine, he will come into camp as the starter and will not lose the job. Right now Butler is just a camp leg to help keep the wear and tear of special teams practice off of Zasty, who should be 100% healthy from his groin injury that nagged him all of last year.

    Will be interning to see if Cards look at Gresham to sign, as he can be the older Vet in the TE room and probably sign for a year at the vet minimum or close to it.

  9. By brinnc on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    Another TE shocker!! He wasnt all world but his leadership and mentorship will be missed, suddenly a weak position just became a huge concern!! Anybody know if Niklas teammate at Notre Dame was drafted by any team, might be worth a look, of course that doesnt help with experience!! Last year when I suggested Bucannon might play a hybrid Linebacker type role, I got laughed off the board, and it seemed the “thumbs down” button somehow was in stuck mode it just wouldnt quite sending thumbs down to my comments concerning Bucannon and playing a sort of Linebacker!! LOL!

    Well since I turned out to be right! (Bucannon actually played more snaps at linebacker!!) Here is a thought…
    Humphries working as the blocking TE, he got very good prospect reviews on having quick feet and hand, maybe we could see him lineup as a TE on running downs, and who knows, he may be able to catch a couple of passes, but think that is highly unlikely, could work as a blocking TE though, that is if he doesnt clearly beat out Massie for the RT job.

    On the funny side, (at least I thought it was funny) was reading reviews and one so called expert actually suggested that Veldheer may have to switch to RT, with Humphries coming in and taking over at LT!!! What?? I wish I would have noted his name, I was just laughing to damn hard, actually thought I had mistakenly landed on that Onion site, or maybe it was only APRIL 1st not May 1st!!! Just dont think this so called guru actually saw Veldheer at LT this past season, I was gone for the whole damn season, or most of it anyway, had very little info on player performance, it was all I could do to get scores within a week, but it didnt take much reading when I returned to catch up on info, and I never saw a negative comment on Veldheer’s performance at LT!! In fact I read more than one article that rated Veldheer the #1 LT that was signed in free agency last year, some were saying steal of free agency, and there was no doubt he outplayed other big name LT’s, best free agent signing, regaurdless of position….read that morecthan once if I remember correctly, and then this “expert” actually thinks Veldheer may be forced to switch to RT because Humphries is going to come in and take his job!!! To damn funny!!! Possibly mixed up Massie and Veldheer, but I dont think he did, I think he had to be looking for laughs!!

  10. By sbrown on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    with 8 season in the NFL, maybe it just took the start of Phase 2 to convince Carlson that his health and family was more important.
    best of luck to you and yours, thanks for being a Cardinal !!

  11. By krehbieo14 on May 5, 2015 | Reply

    The Cardinals have had a long history of misfortune in the TE room. Niklas, Fells and one of the rookies can get the job done, but we need a veteran presence to solidify the group. We’ve been here before looking for TE leadership. I’d hate to see Floyd shopped for a tight end ( is he still on the blocks?) ,but I think Keim needs to look at all options to solidify things. If Miller can still help, bring him in. Best wishes to John Carlson.

  12. By much.faster on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    thanks for a nice season, and stay healthy, carlson.

    now let logan thomas polish up his TE moves :-))

  13. By BIGAL on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Thanks Colby, & I get ya, so maybe we owe the Butler for allowing Zasty time to heal? I, I, I, don’t think so! The guy was soo bad! terrible! I mean when you can’t
    score TD’s cause yer playing w/your 4th string QB, who was just brought back in three weeks prior…but you have a great Defense…field position & the opportunity
    for just a few field goals becomes critical! All that hard work our guys put in was wasted by the Butler! Why is he still here? Hell there are even soccer & rugby players who have become punters/kickers…Think of all the colleges in the US…
    Like bungholes every bodies got one! I would have brought Jay Feely back in to punt last year over this guy! Again, why is he still here! Why does he even have a job? Who’s daughter, niece daughter in law is she? And why is she still taking up a roster spot???

    By Scott H
    Hey Bro thanks appreciate it! For the life of me…& w/Keim & BA seemingly having this narcissistic extravagance to pass on highly graded players & show us that they can find these diamonds in the ruf from nowhere small time college???
    I mean really what is that about? I know they had a plan in the draft! And I believe
    the key to their whole plan was DE Rodney Gunter…But couldn’t we have taken an Eli Harold, a Jordan Hicks, a Tre Flowers, Eric Kendricks, Kwan Alexander,
    Benardrick McKinney, Denzel Perryman…I could on & on…why so many of these obscure kids from nowhere schools???

    Finally to brinnc
    Hey br you know what, I like your idea…but it seems to me that going back a few years early on in Massie’s development…seems to me they used to stack him outside the tackle spot & use him as a blocking TE! Maybe all this could save his job? Humphries @ Tackle & Massie @ Blocking TE! How about that? And from a previous post RE: Draft weekend…was glad to see you loved the RB selection!

  14. By mike egan on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Once again, we have an opportunity to do something constructive with one of last years draft class. Logan Thomas is no QB of the future !! He is bigger than Rob Housler and has better hands. Use this opportunity and practice time to convert him to the tight end position. If he truly wants to play he will happily convert. Who knows maybe he can run a trick play or two and be the fourth string QB. I don’t have a coaches ego, so lets move on with this idea Arizona Front Office People

  15. By Scott H on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Not that post-draft power rankings mean a whole lot, but is IS nice to see the current rankings up on They have the Cards as #4 overall BUT with an “up” arrow after what they feel was a very solid draft for this team. And, of course, it is all contingent on Palmer staying healthy.

    Meanwhile, Seattle is ranked right ahead of the Cardinals at #3 BUT with a “down” arrow after a draft they feel was pretty much nothing special.

    Whatever. I recently expressed that I do and will continue to consider the Seahawks as the top dog in the NFC until….well, until someone is able to dis-lodge them from their perch. I like seeing a projection that has the Cards moving up and Seattle moving down but it means nothing until it actually happens.

  16. By Dynosoar on May 6, 2015 | Reply


    “it seemed the “thumbs down” button somehow was in stuck mode” I’m still laughing. JTDG has experienced this same phenomenon throughout the draft.

    I’d rather see Massie at TE than Humphries.

    If I haven’t said it yet, welcome back. I was alone in the long post department last season. Haha. Seriously, it’s good your back and intact.

  17. By Dynosoar on May 6, 2015 | Reply


    as to a punter, we all saw what Butler brought (or didn’t bring) to the table last year, yet BA who is a genius coach kept him. Keim was churning the roster it seemed in October, why didn’t he get a punter?

    I’m really curious, because it seemed Butler was a really bad punter and I’m not the only one that thinks that, yet my intelligent side (and yes, I do have one, underused perhaps, but it’s there) my intelligent side tells me if Butler really was such a poor punter he’d have been replaced.

    So there’s a reason he’s still around. Perhaps there’s information you could share with us on this site that would help us understand, because if BA and Keim kept him, there’s a good reason. (Then again, we kept Gynn Jr. through the whole season and while I feel there’s got to be a reason, I didn’t understand that one either.)

    I remember watching a freshman punter in the Alabama – Wisconsin game that punted for 76 or so yards. I also remember Seattle purposely punted short yardage two seaons ago because they were That confident in their defense. So there’s more to this story than what we are seeing.

    Thanks for reading my short post. (brinnc, that’s for you. Haha.)

  18. By Eric G on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Hmm, wondered why the Cards chose a TE at the last pick, now me think I know why. Good luck Carlson.

  19. By Dynosoar on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    John the Draft Guy,

    I didn’t think draftguy was you, but with some of the other comments I wanted to ask and clarify. draftguy just didn’t sound like you.

    What are your thoughts of Alani Afua from BYU (apparently, he doesn’t hate University of Utah, so there’s a plus. Haha. I hope I didn’t Max out on that comment.)

    I live in the Salt Lake City area and almost every Saturday night there was a highlight real of Afua. Now, maybe that’s just a reflection on how poor the players are in the area, but I doubt it as several are drafted each year.

    It will be interesting to see how this draft class plays through the years for us. I for one am excited.

  20. By Chuck 1 on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Hard for me to believe that Carlson couldn’t have realized EARLIER that he didn’t want to play anymore i.e. BEFORE THE DRAFT!!!

  21. By erik on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    It is hard to replace experience, but overall I think this may be a blessing in disguise. I can think of way too many passes dropped by Carlson, some of them in crucial times.
    I’m really excited to watch Darren Fells get his chance. When all is said and done I think he can be better than Carlson.

  22. By Andy Kw on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Really thought a breakout season was coming for him but I guess we will never know but thanks for everything. Congrats on a nice career
    -As for our UDFA, I am hoping both Gabe Martin and Alani Fua stick. They both have the size and speed to play the position. As for Zach Wagenmann, I hope he has a chance to stick to.

    Hey Darren,
    Assuming these UDFA rookies do really well in the preseason, do you think there is a really good chance we keep them at least 4-5 on the 53 man roster? Will the Cardinals keep 6 WRs this season and 4 TEs? Is Kevin Minter on the hot seat this season and could Fua & Martin potentially replace 2/3 ILBs in (Carson, Demens, & Minter) if they do well and Cards like the potential? Is Kareem Martin guaranteed a roster spot with Golden, Riddick & Wagenmann coming in the fray?

  23. By Darren Urban on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Andy Kw —

    RE: four or five

    Not that many.

  24. By Andy Kw on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Zach Miller would be a nice pickup if he is healthy. If not, just stick with the guys we have. Niklas and Fells will explode this season. They’re about to be known as the best TE duo in the NFL. Ifeyani Momah & Gerald Christian are very capable players and can step in whenever needed. I like where we’re at at TE.

  25. By Whitey on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    This tight end situation isn’t too different from Arians first year in Indy when they drafted two tight ends early in the draft who ended up being starters in their rookie seasons.

    I’m sure they can coach up the young guys they have as long as they can stay healthy. It might make sense picking up a vet just as a mentor even if he doesn’t end up playing much.

    As far as the Michael Floyd rumors, I’m getting tired of Kent Somers starting rumors just to have something to write about. He was the one who started the whole Adrian Peterson rumor that was talked about adnauseum and ended up being nothing.

    This morning Steve Keim said he has not called another GM about Michael Floyd nor has anyone contacted him about Floyd to date.

    Let’s stop with the unsourced rumor generation already.

  26. By Richard S on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    From the SF Chronicle online edition:
    OK. Fair enough. But why in the world did the 49ers take South Carolina tight end Busta Anderson with their final pick? Anderson, the third-to-last-player selected, became the eighth tight end on the 49ers’ roster. Overkill, anyone?
    In explaining that pick, Baalke predictably said Anderson was the highest-rated player on their board; it’s never a mistake to take good football players, etc. However, Baalke also offered more insight to further explain his seemingly curious selection: By taking Anderson, who was projected to be a mid-round pick, the 49ers might have kept him from a division rival.
    Two picks later, Baalke noted, the Cardinals ended the draft by selecting a tight end, Louisville’s Gerald Christian.
    “It just so happened that Arizona, the pick or two right after us, took a tight end,” Baalke said. “Maybe that was the guy. If he was the highest-rated tight end and we were able to keep that from happening, more power to us. I’m not saying … that was their target, either.”
    And – who knows – perhaps the Cardinals are really wishing they had Anderson instead of Christian, particularly after this news today: Arizona’s John Carlson retired after leading the Cardinals tight ends in starts (12) and catches (33) last year.

  27. By Eric G on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    Just saw the Cards picked up Dennard off waivers, good pickup, needed another corner.

  28. By Chuck 1 on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    What a coincidence!!! Earlier this AM, I was wondering why I hadn’t heard anything about “Deflategate”.

    Lo and behold, Wells’ investigation report was released a little later.

    I think that a loss of two first round draft picks, a two-to-four game suspension for Brady and a fine of $500,000 would be appropriate for the cheating Patriot organization.

  29. By Andy Kw on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    I heard we claimed Alfonzo Dennard off waivers. Nice pickup, adds much needed depth

  30. By Coach K on May 6, 2015 | Reply

    No worries. Keim will find someone.

  1. 3 Trackback(s)

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