"After much thought and consideration, my wife Danielle and I know that this is best decision for us," Carlson said in a statement released by the team. "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 was on the back end of a two-year, $4.65 million contract he signed in 2014.
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2008, Carlson had his best years as a rookie and sophomore with the Seahawks, catching 106 passes for 1,201 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Over his career, he had 210 catches for 2,256 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Carlson did not provide a reason for his early exit, though it's safe to say it came as a surprise. He was working out with the team on Monday.