Tolbert Signs With Panthers

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 19: Running back Mike Tolbert #35 and tight end Randy McMichael #81 of the San Diego Chargers celebrate Tolbert's first quarter touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium on lbSeptember 19 2010 in San Diego California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The agent of former San Diego Chargers Running Back Mike Tolbert is reporting his client has inked a four-year deal to play with the Panthers.

The signing leads many to believe the future of RB Jonathan Stewart with the team may be uncertain, as he is entering the final year of his rookie deal and Carolina may not be able to lock him up with the same type of mega-deal it gave RB Deangelo Williams last offseason.

According to ESPN, Tolbert's agent said the player was offered about $1 million more from San Diego, but turned the deal down in hopes of landing in Charlotte.

A former player at Coastal Carolina, the 26-year-old will make his return to the Carolinas.

The financial terms of the contract have not yet been released.

This is the latest in several free agent signings since the League Year began last week, but the first addition to the offensive side of the ball. This offseason, the Panthers have also picked up former Ravens FS Haruki Nakamura, former Chargers DE/OLB Jyles Tucker and former Vikings LB and ST ace Kenny Onatalu.

Over the weekend, former Tar Heel offensive lineman Jason Brown visited the team, and has been rumored to be thinking over a contract offer. If he is signed, he could be expected to compete for a starting guard position.

Even if Stewart remains in the fold for the Panthers, Tolbert could be looked at as an insurance signing, so that should one of the Panthers "Double Trouble" tandem go down to injury - the team wouldn't have to drastically alter it's offensive philosophy. The similarity between the players and proximity of Stewart's payday could mean this is a move to supplant a Carolina stalwart for some years, though.

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