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Grading the Carolina Panthers' Signing of Fullback Mike Tolbert

The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday agreed to a two-year deal with fullback Mike Tolbert. Brandon Croce hands out his grade for the move.

For this free agent signing, and all signings from this point forward, we will be breaking the move down into four categories. Each category is worth up to 25 points and a final grade will be handed out based on the total score. These are the definitions of each category:

Player- How has the player produced to this point in his career? Where does he rank among other players at his position?

Team Fit- How does he fit within the offensive or defensive scheme?

Team Need- Is this position a weak spot on the roster? Does this move strengthen the position?

Contract- Is this a reasonable contract based on production? Did the team over spend or did they get a steal?


Grade: 23 out of 25

The reason that Mike Tolbert receives the grade he does is because there aren't many players like him in the league. Typically, when a fullback comes into a game, there is a good indication that the offense will be calling some kind of run play.

This is not the case when Tolbert comes into the game for the Carolina Panthers because not only can he block for Jonathan Stewart, he is an effective ball carrier and is an exceptional pass catcher for his size. This versatility keeps defenses off balance and doesn't necessarily allow them to key into one part of the offense.

Team Fit

Grade: 25 out of 25

The Panthers tend to lean on the run, especially with a quarterback like Cam Newton who is excellent with the ball running on the ground. The versatility that Tolbert brings to this offense mentioned above is the perfect fit for this offense.

Team Need

Grade: 23 out of 25

If the team wasn't able to bring him back, the front office may have struggled finding his replacement. There aren't many offenses that use a fullback as much as the Panthers, so if they were not able to re-sign Tolbert, it would have left a significant hole in this offense.

Tolbert never made a huge impact on the stat sheet, he has never been a volume player. However, when his number was called he made key plays in games from picking up first downs either through the air or in short-yardage situations. 


Grade: 25 out of 25

As Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reported the Panthers were able to bring Tolbert back on a two-year deal worth $4 million. This is an excellent contract for the Panthers as it doesn't hurt their cap situation and are able to bring back a two-time All-Pro.

Final Grade

Grade: 96 out of 100

Mike Tolbert will never be at the top of any free agent lists however his value to this team is tremendous. Fans don't need to look any farther than how different the two offenses looked from 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Tolbert had the worst year of his career and missed time due to injuries. The Panthers' offense sputtered for a majority of the year.

This past season, the offense finished with the most points scored in the league and Tolbert rebounded to play the full year and score four touchdowns. Now while he wasn't the only reason for the improvement, with a majority of the credit should go to Cam Newton, what he brings to this team certainly helped them.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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