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Updated: March 16th, 2012 10:00am
John Carlson's contract could end up being a 2-year, $11 million pact

John Carlson's contract could end up being a 2-year, $11 million pact

by Tom Pelissero
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John Carlson's five-year, $25 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings could end up being a two-year, $11 million pact, depending how the veteran tight end produces.

According to a source with access to NFL salary data, only $9.1 million of the deal Carlson signed on Wednesday is truly guaranteed -- a $5 million signing bonus, plus Carlson's full $2.9 million base salary in 2012 and $1.2 million of his $2.9 million base salary in 2013.

The rest is tied up in scheduled base salaries of $3.9 million in 2014 and $4.9 million in 2015 and '16, plus annual workout bonuses of $100,000. It's the sort of pay-as-you-go deal the Vikings have used for years to keep their cap healthy.

The larger base salaries kick in the same year as the NFL's new TV deal, which is expected to significantly increase the salary cap in 2014. If the contract hasn't worked out by then, the Vikings could cut Carlson after paying him $11 million for two seasons and take a $3 million cap hit in 2014.

Carlson, 27, missed all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The Vikings' medical staff passed Carlson on a physical before he signed the deal, and the team envisions him forming a mismatch-inducing tandem in the passing game with last year's second-round draft pick, Kyle Rudolph.

Backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels didn't receive a signing bonus on his two-year contract, but $500,000 of his $1.45 million base salary in 2012 is guaranteed. He also received a $50,000 workout bonus. He has a $1.45 million base salary and $50,000 workout bonus again in 2013.

The other contract to which the Vikings have agreed this week, with defensive tackle Letroy Guion, has not yet been announced by the team or filed with the league, meaning Guion probably has yet to sign it. That's a formality, though. It reportedly is worth $9 million over three years.

Once Guion's deal is finalized, it is believed the Vikings will be around $15 million under their adjusted salary cap for 2012.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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