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Agent: Panthers add RB Tolbert from Chargers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have added more depth to their already deep stable of running backs.

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."

Turner did not release financial terms of the deal.

Tolbert has spent all four of his seasons in the NFL with San Diego. He had 490 yards rushing and 433 yards receiving on 54 catches last season and scored 10 touchdowns while splitting time with Ryan Mathews. His best season came in 2010 when he led the Chargers with 735 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.

Tolbert has started 15 games and played in 59 during his four years with the Chargers.

A former player at Coastal Carolina, Tolbert was eager to get back to the East coast and liked what he saw from the Panthers organization, Turner said.

The question now is what this means for the rest of Carolina's backfield.

Carolina already had one of the deepest and most talented backfields in the league with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson. All three are under contract for next season but one could be moved.

The Panthers signed Williams to a five-year contract last summer and have been trying to lock up Stewart to a long-term extension as well.

The speedy Goodson has success at the end of John Fox's regime in 2010 with three straight 100-yard games, but could be a player the team looks to move. He struggled with fumbling last season and fell out of favor with Rivera and barely played at all as the season progressed.

The Panthers like Tolbert's versatility.

Although he's a talented ball carrier, the 5-foot-9, 243-pound Tolbert has played some fullback with the Chargers and proven he can be a run-blocker. He's also a talented receiver out of the backfield with 109 career receptions, including six touchdowns.

Tolbert is also a contributor on special teams and the Panthers have been looking to upgrade there in free agency.

 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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