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Mike Tolbert signed with Panthers to return to South

  • By Brian McIntyre NFL.com
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The San Diego Chargers didn't want to lose fullback Mike Tolbert in free agency. The former undrafted free agent out of Coastal Carolina had over 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns the previous three seasons (including a team-high 735 yards in 2010), caught 54 passes in 2011 and led the team in special-teams tackles in 2009 and 2011.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, they never stood a chance as Tolbert took $1 million less to sign with the Carolina Panthers so he could raise his daughter in the South, The Associated Press reports.

"I just wanted to raise my daughter in the South," the native of Douglasville, Ga., said. "I just think this is a better place to raise a family."

Tolbert signed a four-year, $10 million contract that included $4.2 million in guarantees to be a jack of all trades for the Panthers. While he'll primarily play fullback, Tolbert's talents as a runner and receiver will not go to waste, and his play on special teams should go a long way toward improving a unit that ranked 32nd in special teams DVOA in 2011.

Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinkski has worked out some new, undisclosed ways to use Tolbert, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer writes.

"I can't reveal it, but we're learning some different stuff and doing some different things that I haven't done in the past," Tolbert said. "Chud and coach (Ron) Rivera have a lot of confidence in me. With that being said, I'm going to go out and try to prove them right."

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