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Does John Carlson have a future with the Seahawks?

By Brady Henderson

Pete Carroll was practically giddy when he spoke with reporters last summer about how tight ends John Carlson and Zach Miller would give the Seahawks flexibility and create matchup problems for opponents.

After all, Miller — who had just signed a five-year deal with the Seahawks — was coming off a Pro Bowl season. Carlson, entering his fourth NFL season, was already among the most prolific tight ends in franchise history.

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Despite missing his all of his fourth NFL season with a torn shoulder labrum, John Carlson is third among tight ends in franchise history with 137 catches and 1,519 yards. (AP)

Of course, that duo never materialized. Carlson was lost for the season in training camp with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Miller’s role as a pass-catcher was limited throughout the season because the team’s issues with pass protection necessitated extra blocking help.

Miller is under contract for four more years. Carlson, meanwhile, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13.

Could he be back with the Seahawks? That question was asked during Monday’s edition of Cold Hard Facts with John Clayton.

“I get the feeling he might be,” Clayton said. “If he were 100 percent healthy he would be gone. 100 percent gone. There’s not a lot of great-looking tight ends in this [free-agent] market. You know he can start. You know he can be good. And so if he were 100 percent coming off that torn labrum then maybe it would be a different story.”

Carlson, 27, had a franchise-record 106 catches over his first two seasons with the Seahawks. His seven touchdown catches in 2009 established a franchise record. He caught 31 passes for 318 yards and one touchdown in 2010, adding four more catches and a pair of scores in the playoffs.

He has been mentioned as a potential fit in Cleveland, where his former head coach, Mike Holmgren, is the Browns’ president. Cleveland could have an opening at tight end as Alex Smith is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

“There still could be a chance that [Carlson] could come back,” Clayton said. “It won’t be a big number. It’s one of those things where, if somebody gets hot on him then they’ll let him go. But I think there is a desire to bring him back and let him be the second tight end.”