By Eric Schmidt

There were more than a few eyebrows raised over the weekend when a report surfaced that the Carolina Panthers brought free agent RB Mike Tolbert in for a visit, prompting speculation that the team could have Jonathan Stewart on the trade block. The Panthers are one of the deepest teams at the running back position. Along with Stewart, the Panthers have DeAngelo Williams and Mike Goodson under contract for 2012. Goodson finished the year on the injured reserve list for the Carolina Panthers.

If the Panthers do indeed sign free agent running back Mike Tolbert, then it is apparent that Stewart would be the odd man out. Stewart is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and after re-signing DeAngelo Williams to a monster contract last year, it’s unlikely that the Panthers could afford to ink Stewart to a long-term deal next season.

In what has been a slow free agency period at the running back position this season, Stewart would likely generate some trade interest. The Oregon product will turn 25 this season and has only logged over 200 carries in a season once in his career. In his four-year career, Stewart has rushed for 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns with a 4.8 yard per carry average.

A possible suitor for Stewart could be the Cleveland Browns. Last week, rumors surfaced of a possible trade between the Browns and the Houston Texans for RB Ben Tate.

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