Mike Tolbert has been a backup running back in San Diego behind Ryan Mathews for the past 2 years, rushing for 1235 yards and 19 touchdowns on 303 carries, while catching 79 passes. Due to that production and his ability in short yardage situations, the 5-9 243 pounder was one of the most sought after running backs on a weak running back market this offseason as a free agent. Given that, it was a bit peculiar when he signed in Carolina. Carolina already has two running backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and Tolbert didn’t get very much money, taking 8.4 million over 4 years.
Tolbert, who will play mostly fullback for the Panthers this year, has now given us a reason for the seemingly peculiar decision. Tolbert said that he left at least a million dollars on the table from the Chargers and a good deal more playing time to sign in Carolina because he wanted to raise his daughter in the South.
Originally from the Carolina area, Tolbert attended college at nearby Coastal Carolina University and feels it’s a “better place to raise a family.” In an era when so many decisions are made for financial reasons, it’s refreshing to see someone make a football decision because it makes him happy, not just richer. Tolbert could see more playing time in 2013 and beyond as Jonathan Stewart will be a free agent and DeAngelo Williams will be 30 next offseason.