Tolbert signed a contract with the Bills on Wednesday, Mike Rodak of ESPN reports. Tolbert's signing with Buffalo comes as a bit of a surprise, since the team signed fullback Patrick DiMarco earlier in the day Wednesday. However, the Bills are expected to use Tolbert as a short-yardage running back rather than a blocking fullback. His signing may take some value away from LeSean McCoy. Tolbert had 35 rushes for 114 yards with Carolina last season, and will be 31 years old for the start of the 2017 season.
Tolbert was released by Carolina on Tuesday, Max Henson of the Panthers's official site reports. Tolbert had arguably his least effective year in Carolina in 2016, averaging only 11.6 total yards per game. With younger backs Fozzy Whitaker and Cameron Artis-Payne filling in backup roles behind starter Jonathan Stewart, combined with the fact that Tolbert was due $1.5 million in 2017, the Panthers decided to part ways with the fullback. Tolbert will finish his career in Carolina with 19 total touchdowns over five years.
Tolbert rushed 35 times for 114 yards and caught 10 passes (on 15 targets) for 72 yards and a touchdown in 16 games played this season. Tolbert has long been one of the more utilized fullbacks in the league, giving him unique fantasy value despite his position, particularly given his penchant for finding the end zone. The veteran scored 18 touchdowns in his previous four seasons with the Panthers, but saw his stock fall off significantly with just one trip to pay dirt this term. In truth, Tolbert's overall production mirrored that from 2014, but he did so while playing eight more games this season, evidencing how marginalized he became.
Tolbert rushed once for three yards in Saturday's loss to the Falcons. Tolbert enjoyed his best outing of the season with 41 total yards and a touchdown in Week 15, but he wasn't involved much outside of blocking in Carolina's loss over the weekend.
Tolbert rushed twice for 13 yards and caught all three of his targets for 28 yards and a touchdown Monday night against the Redskins. Tolbert's one-yard touchdown catch to start the second half marked his long-awaited first score of this season. With his 41 all-purpose yards also serving as a season high, Tolbert enjoyed his best outing of the campaign in Week 15.
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