The Carolina Panthers added a bruiser to their already-crowded backfield on Monday, signing former Charger Mike Tolbert to a four-year deal. According to Tolbert's agent, he even said no to a big pile of money to make the move. From the AP:
The agent for free agent running back Mike Tolbert said Monday his client has signed a four-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. Joel Turner said Tolbert was so excited about joining Carolina that he left over $1 million on the table on an offer from San Diego.
"That's how bad he wanted to play there," Turner said. "He loves the idea of playing for Ron Rivera and being on the same team with Cam Newton. He just thinks it's a great fit."
Tolbert was born in Georgia and played his college ball at Coastal Carolina, so he's an East Coast guy. If he's willing to turn his back on a million to go back, I'm guessing he's feeling James Taylor on this one. And good for him. You only get so many opportunities in your career to go where you want. Take advantage.
The fit, from a purely football standpoint, seems a little odd. The Panthers already have a lot of money tied up in DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson are on the roster for next season, too. Maybe they'll move one of those guys before the season ‒ Stewart seems most likely. But he's not making a ton of money, so I doubt that there's a sense of urgency in getting rid of him, either.
Had Tolbert stayed in San Diego, it seems like more carries would've been available for him. Ryan Matthews will be the top guy, but Tolbert was still likely to have a sizeable role on passing downs and in short-yardage situations. The Chargers are in need of a backup now. They've liked Michael Bush for a while, and Jackie Battle's name has been tossed about.