Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune San Diego passed along word late Friday that free agent running back Mike Tolbert was drawing interest from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The news from Acee came directly on the heels of his report that Tolbert and the Chargers were “ready to separate” after an ultimately fruitless round of intense contract negotiations.
Acee may have been misled regarding the Steelers’ alleged interest.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote on Twitter Saturday afternoon that Tolbert has “no visit” lined up with the Steelers, and the deal is “not happening.” Tolbert might have made sense for the Steelers due to Rashard Mendenhall’s late-season ACL tear, but they apparently have no interest.
Acee also mentioned the Panthers as a potential destination for Tolbert, although Carolina has two effective running backs under contract (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart), and a capable third-stringer in Mike Goodson.
It’s easy to connect dots between the Panthers and Tolbert because Carolina’s coaching staff has ties to Tolbert in former Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, now Panthers head coach, and former Chargers tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski, who now coordinates Carolina’s offense. But due to their depth at the position, we suspect the Panthers aren’t all that interested in Tolbert, either.
Tolbert is a valuable role player and will be playing football during the upcoming season, but his market isn’t very hot right now.