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Panthers sign RB Tolbert

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Posted March 19, 2012 @ 2 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Updated 2:10 p.m. ET, Monday, March 19

The Panthers added another piece to their talented RB corps Monday, agreeing to terms with ex-Charger Mike Tolbert on a four-year deal, the team announced Monday.

Tolbert, 26, met with Panthers officials on Sunday night and must have been very impressed with the presentation.

He heads to Carolina after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Chargers. The 5-9, 243-pound Tolbert likely will function as a short-yardage and goal-line back with the Panthers and also has the ability to help on passing downs as a receiver or blocker.

Tolbert has rushed for 19 of his 20 career rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons. He has rushed 341 times for 1,410 yards (4.1 average) in his career and has made 109 catches for 1,012 yards (9.3 average).

Last season, Tolbert played in 15 games with one start and led the Chargers with eight rushing touchdowns. He also contributed on special teams, tying for the team lead with 12 tackles.

"Mike is a very versatile player who can do a lot of different things for us," Panthers GM Marty Hurney said. "He plays fullback, catches the ball well out of the backfield, plays running back, and is an outstanding special teams player. It was a good fit and gives us a chance to add another weapon on offense. We are excited about bringing him back to the Carolinas."

The way we see it

There is a crowd in the Panthers' RB stable with Tolbert joining DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson. Speculation is that Stewart will be dangled in trades, if he hasn't been already, as he's entering the final year of his rookie deal and is the Carolina back most comparable to Tolbert. However, the Panthers could be content to head into next season with Stewart and Tolbert.

If the Panthers don't re-sign Stewart, they have insurance in Tolbert and will have a strong, deep rushing attack to complement QB Cam Newton — a very capable rusher himself — and the passing game.

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