Vikings tight end John Carlson said he’s not done playing football and will continue his career next season despite his concussion history.
Carlson finished the season on injured reserve due to a concussion he suffered in Week 14 against the Ravens. It was his third concussion in six NFL seasons. He reportedly also suffered two more concussions at Notre Dame.
Carlson, who will turn 30 by the start of next season, has a yearly evaluation in the offseason with his wife and indicated in December that retirement might be an option, but not a foregone conclusion, when they discussed about his concussion history.
“I never once said I was going to retire; I said I’m going to evaluate this just like I do every year,” Carlson told the Star Tribune on Saturday. “I’ve gone through that process, and I feel great.”
Carlson said the evaluation gives him and his wife a plan for the offseason, including what doctors Carlson should visit and his training program, to prepare for the following season.
The Litchfield, Minn. native said he’s received good feedback from doctors he has seen. After tight end Kyle Rudolph broke his foot in Week 9, Carlson had 283 yards and a touchdown in five weeks as the starter before suffering the concussion. Carlson finished the season with 32 catches for 344 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s a serious thing, but I’m not ready to be done,” Carson said. “I’m not done and the doctors are telling me that it’s OK that I’m not done.
“But the 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. The end is the end.”
Carlson signed a five-year contract worth $25 million in 2012 but restructured the deal last year. He would like to return to the Vikings next season, but he’s unsure about the team’s plans at the moment with new head coach Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings front office has started evaluating the roster and general manager Rick Spielman said on Friday the organization will look to move on from some current players that may be under contract. Carlson’s agent will meet with Spielman at the NFL Combine next week.
“Every year is a new year and a new opportunity,” Carlson said. “I’m excited to have an opportunity. I hope it’s here with the Vikings. I don’t know what’s going to happen and a lot of things are out of my control, but I’m excited to be healthy, to feel good and to get the feedback that I’ve gotten.”