Here is more on the move:
Terms: 1 year, $1 million (per ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton).
Grade C-plus: This move had some Bills fans scratching their heads after the team agreed to terms with fullback Patrick DiMarco earlier Wednesday. Many NFL teams do not have one fullback; the Bills effectively will have two with the expected addition of Tolbert. The key part of this signing is how much Tolbert will be used as a short-yardage running back. If he can take some of the load off LeSean McCoy, there could be value to the signing.
What it means: Tolbert is a three-time Pro Bowler who brings nine years of NFL experience via the Carolina Panthers (2012-16), the San Diego Chargers (2008-2011) and Buffalo. At 5-foot-9 and 250 pounds, he offers a compact frame as both a fullback and running back. The Bills lacked that bruiser body type after releasing Karlos Williams last August following a drug-policy suspension. Mike Gillislee filled the Bills' short-yardage role last season and performed well, leading the NFL in touchdowns per carry, first downs per carry and third-down conversion rate on carries. The Bills assigned Gillislee, a restricted free agent, an original-round tender this week, which could potentially cause another team to offer Gillislee a deal. If the Bills do not match, they will have a short-yardage option in Tolbert to replace him.
What’s the risk: The Bills will draw laughs in some circles for signing two fullbacks in the opening days of free agency. The team is ostensibly doubling down on their run-first strategy in a passing-first league, a strategy that will open the club to some criticism. It is initially unclear how much salary-cap space the Bills will devote to Tolbert, but the team has glaring holes at wide receiver and at several defensive positions that need to be addressed.