The Carolina Panthers‘ offseason rebuild began Tuesday.
“I feel very fortunate to have coached Mike for nearly his entire career,” head coach Ron Rivera said, via the team’s official website. “He was someone we targeted in 2012 because we felt he would be a good addition to our offense and he was very productive for us. He brought great energy and leadership to our locker room and I wish him the best.”
Tolbert had one year remaining on a two-year contract signed last March. The move saves the Panthers $1.725 million on the salary cap.
With the Panthers, the three-time Pro Bowler earned 992 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 771 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. Last season he compiled 114 yards on 35 carries, and 10 receptions for 72 yards and a score.
The decline of the 31-year-old bulldozer last year in both blocking and rushing likely means he’ll have to wait out the market if he decides to continue his NFL career. The Panthers should add younger legs to pair with Jonathan Stewart via a deep draft at the running back position.
The Panthers announced they have also parted ways with defensive tackle Paul Soliai. The 33-year-old signed with Carolina last year and compiled just eight tackles in 10 games played. The move saves the Panthers $2.5 million.