Carlson, 30, played six NFL seasons (not counting 2011, which he missed with a torn labrum), catching 210 passes for 2,256 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Cardinals. The tight end snagged 33 passes for 350 yards in 2014, while playing all 16 games.
"After much thought and consideration, my wife Danielle and I know that this is best decision for us," Carlson said in a statement. "I was blessed to play seven seasons in the NFL for three tremendous organizations - the Cardinals, Vikings and Seahawks. I will always treasure the experiences and relationships made during that time but I'm also very excited about the next phase of my life and what's ahead."
Carlson signed a two-year contract with Arizona in March 2014.
Before his retirement, Carlson was the only tight end on the Cardinals roster with more than five career receptions.
- Alex Putterman