- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
A usually quiet Steelers team in free agency might be poised to make a key addition.
Pittsburgh is considered the favorite to land Chargers free-agent running back Mike Tolbert, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Carolina Panthers are also believed to be interested in Tolbert.
While there is no reported visit set up, this move would make perfect sense for the Steelers. Pittsburgh needs to add an experienced runner because Rashard Mendenhall is expected to start the season on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing ACL surgery in January and backup Isaac Redman has never been a featured back for an entire season.
Tolbert, 26, is a battering-ram runner who fits the Steelers' old rugged persona on offense and he's a valuable receiver who boosts the Steelers' recent pass-first philosophy. As a runner, he'll give you four yards per carry and a strong presence in the red zone (19 touchdowns in two seasons). As a receiver, he caught 54 passes, turning 23 of them into first downs.
Pittsburgh probably isn't looking to Tolbert to carry the running game. He's a complementary back who only had four games with double-digit carries last season.
The Steelers should get a good price on Tolbert, who hasn't received much interest in free agency. He had a visit with the Chiefs, who signed Peyton Hillis. It doesn't look like he'll be going back to the Chargers, who went with Le'Ron McClain. Those two former AFC North runners could now push Tolbert to the Steelers, who would get much stronger because of it.