Mike Tolbert has found a new home, and it's not too far from one of his old ones.
The former Chargers running back signed with the Panthers on Monday (March 19), leaving San Diego after four seasons and returning to the state where he played his college football at Coastal Carolina.
"Mike is a very versatile player who can do a lot of different things for us," Panthers general manager 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."
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Tolbert's four-year deal includes a team option for the last two years, which must be exercised next year.
"Sounds like option is insurance in the event Panthers can't re-sign Jonathan Stewart," Person said via his Twitter account (@josephperson). Stewart, who ran for 761 yards on 142 carries in 2011, is entering the final year of his contract.
Tolbert, 26, carried the ball 121 times for 490 yards and eight touchdowns last season, down from 735 yards on 182 carries in 2010, when he was named the Chargers' Offensive Player of the Year. He caught a career-best 54 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns and made 15 tackles on special teams.
A former undrafted free agent, Tolbert carried the ball 341 times as a Charger for 1,410 yards and 20 touchdowns, while catching 109 passes for 1,012 yards and six more scores.