With Carlson out, Miller's signing key

The Seattle Seahawks didn't really need to pursue a starting tight end in free agency this offseason. They felt fortunate when the Oakland Raiders let Zach Miller reach free agency, and they were thrilled to sign a young, proven talent.

CarlsonCarlsonMillerMillerThe signing took on additional importance Tuesday when the Seahawks announced that John Carlson, the incumbent starter at the position, would require season-ending shoulder surgery. Coach Pete Carroll announced the news following practice.

Carlson's long-term future with the team was in question even before the team signed Miller. That was because Carlson was entering the final year of his contract, and the Seahawks remained a team in transition with yet another set of coaches on offense. The injury most likely prevents the Seahawks from considering trade options. It will also likely affect Carlson's value in free agency next offseason.

The Seahawks do have options. Second-year tight end Anthony McCoy and veteran Dominique Byrd have made plays during the preseason. Each has seven receptions and the two have accounted for all three Seattle scoring receptions. Cameron Morrah remains on the physically unable to perform list after making a positive impression as a receiving threat last season.

Miller is the key. He gives the team a strong, versatile presence at the position. The Seahawks would have been better off with Miller and Carlson working in tandem, but Miller still provides an upgrade over what the team has had at the position previously.