Carolina made yet another special teams move picking up versatile running back Mike Tolbert.
Grabbing him from the San Diego Chargers, the move is a shrewd, inexpensive (4 years, $10 million) deal with many facets:
*naturally, as a Charger, Tolbert is well known in this offense already
*from this offense, he's been a versatile player as a RB or FB - and even when not getting a lot of time in 2011, caught over 50 balls out of the backfield
*playing either FB or RB, he makes for a great guy to put in motion, or a guy who can stay in the backfield as a running threat (700+ yards in 2010 rushing), either of which are big draws in this offense
*Carolina had a hole at FB, clearly, with Tony Fiammetta being cut and Richie Brockel really being more of a TE;
*With a fullback that can block or catch, the need is less for a 2nd TE that can do so - enough that Ben Hartsock can remain situational as a blocker, and Gary Barnidge is enough as a 2nd TE. So, Jeremy Shockey isn't required - as much as it'd be great to have two top TE, spreading the upgrades around is a good way to go.
*since Carolina does run the triple option, it means flexibility - you can use both Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams if you want, or you don't have to. It's no longer a tell that the option is a possibility if both players aren't on the field.
*The 4 year deal has an option allowing the team to buy in, "if Stewart doesn't stay", but I think people are making too much of that. Charles Godfrey has that bonus. Jon Beason has that bonus. That's how contracts work now.
Tolbert is an ace special teamer. So you're getting a Nick Goings level of versatility in a massive body that can do everything well including block, play special teams. If this deal doesn't work out, he's an expensive special teamer, but given the way that this has played out so far, the success rate seems high.