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Mike Tolbert took less money so he could be in the South

Mike Tolbert

Carolina Panthers’ Mike Tolbert runs a drill during NFL football practice in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, June 1, 2012. Tolbert was pretty comfortable playing in San Diego, but when the Panthers came calling Tolbert left more than $1 million on the table to return to the East Coast and play for the Panthers. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


When running back Mike Tolbert signed with the Panthers, it was reported that he took less money than the Chargers were offering.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Tolbert confirmed he left $1 million on the table and explained why he left money on the table as a free agent. It certainly wasn’t an increase in opportunity, not with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart already in Carolina. Tolbert, who played at Coastal Carolina and grew up in Georgia, says that he wanted to get back to his roots.

“I just wanted to raise my daughter in the South,” Tolbert said. “I just think this is a better place to raise a family. It was time for a change, and I just think first of all the South is a better place to raise a family.”

Tolbert also said that his familiarity with the Panthers offense helped make it easier to make the move. Head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski both worked for the Chargers and Tolbert refers to Chudzinski as an “innovator” offensively.

The Panthers have talked a lot about using Tolbert in a variety of roles, including split out as a receiver. Reports from OTAs have him working almost exclusively as a fullback, however, which likely means a reduction in touches from his San Diego days. It would seem coming home doesn’t come without its sacrifices.