According to Jason La Canfora via Twitter, Mike Tolbert has signed a four year deal with the Carolina Panthers. Tolbert had spent the first four years of his career here in San Diego as a Charger. He originally signed with the team as an undrafted free agent out of Coastal Carolina. During those four years he proved himself to be both a solid runner and receiver out of the backfield as well as one of the club's best special teams performers.
Given the Chargers' investment of a first round pick in Ryan Mathews and Tolbert's diminished role in the offense coupled with Tolbert's numerous suitors in free agency it's no surprise that the Touchdown Vulture has moved on to greener pastures. That he ended up in Carolina makes even more sense. He'll rejoin offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Carolina likely won't be able to afford to keep both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams moving forward.
As for the Chargers, they still need to fill the role of RB2 on the depth chart. Curtis Brinkley simply isn't good enough to split carries with Mathews and right now he's all they have. Jackie Battle was considered one of the more likely replacements for Tolbert and he'd fit well enough, but I doubt Charger fans will be excited to see that move made. Now we wait.
RB Mike Tolbert agrees to 4yr deal with Panthers. #freeagency— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 19, 2012
UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, Mike Tolbert left over $1 million on the table from the Chargers to sign with Carolina.