Gettleman took hard stances on contracts with some of Carolina’s best players in recent seasons, including Steve Smith, Jordan Gross, Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen. That also meant letting some players walk away from the team or releasing them from their existing contracts.
Running back Mike Tolbert was one of those players jettisoned by Gettleman in February. Now with the Buffalo Bills, Tolbert is preparing to face his former team this weekend in Carolina. Even though Gettleman was fired by the Panthers in July, Tolbert is eager to show his former team he’s still got plenty left in the tank.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion,” Tolbert said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “I use that whole ‘deteriorated’ word as motivation, not destruction. I’m not going to let it tear me down. I’m going to let it build me up.”
Tolbert seemed to imply without much subtlety that he had heard the “deteriorated’ word from somewhere before. In the Bills’ season opener against the New York Jets, Tolbert ran for 42 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
“Don’t seem deteriorated at all, does it?” Tolbert said.
Tolbert spent five seasons with the Panthers and had signed a new two-year contract after the team’s Super Bowl appearance in 2015. He only saw one season of that new deal with Carolina before being released. Tolbert appeared in 72 games for Carolina over that span, rushing for 992 yards and 13 touchdowns.