Buzz: Cold More fiction than fact.
Status: San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert (the human bowling ball), is a free agent and drawing interest from multiple teams. Some reports indicate New England may have an interest in the 5-foot-9, 243-pound runner. One league source would neither confirm nor deny those reports.
Analysis: Tolbert apparently has drawn interest from close to 10 teams. The Steelers and the Chiefs have been closely connected with Tolbert, though San Diego remains an option. According to one NFL source, New England would have no interest in Tobert because he doesn't fit their needs. The team already has Lousaka Polite, so adding Tolbert -- a similar back -- wouldn't make sense.
Upon closer inspection, the Patriots backfield fared decently in 2011, though running with power was a concern. Second year player Stevan Ridley is well regarded by the club. At 5-foot-11, 225-pounds he has the look of a power back, and certainly the quickness.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, currently a free agent, could return to the club. Both sides have discussed the possibility, so there is some reason to have optimism that he could return. Shane Vereen, selected in last year's Draft has a season under him and could conceivable push for a role as a passing option out of the backfield depending on what the team wants to do with Danny Woodhead.
More likely, though the Patriots will turn to the Draft to find a capable replacement for Green-Ellis if he leaves, rather than spend top dollar on a free agent who apparently wants more than he's worth, according to various reports.
One player New England has had multiuple contacts with is Isaiah Pead, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound speedster from Cincinnati who is rapidly rising up Draft boards.
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Here's more on Tolbert:
Tolbert to visit Steelers
Free agent running back Mike Tolbert has received interest from more than 10 teams, according to his agent, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers are the teams showing the most interest.
Tolbert is expected to visit the Steelers as his chances of re-signing with the Chargers dwindle.
The Steelers could offer a significant role with Rashard Mendenhall expected to miss at least the first two months of the season recovering from a knee injury suffered Jan. 1.
Tolbert, a compact and powerful runner, has 19 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons.
The Chargers are considering signing replacements for Tolbert and reportedly visited with Chiefs free agent running back Jackie Battle
-- The Sports Xchange
And from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Acee elaborated on Tolbert in this report:
Mike Tolbert expected to land in Pittsburgh or Carolina ... I'm told this isn't like Malcom Floyd, who returned last yr after deal was dead.— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) March 17, 2012
How it all shook out:
Days of deliberation passed between the Chargers and Tolbert.
His camp wanted more money. The Chargers stood firm.
Now, the two sides seem certain to separate.
Tolbert will visit another team this morning, his agent Joel Turner said, after negotiations with the Chargers hit a standstill Friday. They reached a critical stage Thursday night, and Turner would not address where they faltered.
It is known, however, the two sides did not agree on Turner's valuation.
Tolbert's visit is with the Steelers or Panthers, league sources said, but Turner would not confirm.
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