January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) scores a second quarter touchdown against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

When Worlds Collide: Mike Tolbert to Panthers, Jonathan Stewart to... Browns?

Mike Tolbert has been the ultimate vulture.  Ruining fantasy football for Ryan Matthews owners and being a dream come true for waiver wire prowlers.  In real life, Tolbert is the ultimate RB2 providing the Chargers a legitimate goal line option for the last 4 years.  In his short career Tolbert has 26 touchdowns.

The Carolina Panthers have built a reputation for playing smash-mouth run first football.  DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been a dominant duo headlining this effective offensive attack. Last year the offense, with the addition of Cam Newton, posted 150 yards per game on the ground, ranking 3rd overall.

So what happens when these worlds collide?

It happened a few days ago.  Mike Tolbert signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers claiming he liked the way he fit into the system.  So what does it mean to us?  Well there isn’t any way that Williams, Stewart, and Tolbert can coexist.  At least not when you consider the amount of touches and touchdowns Cam Newton adds to the rushing attack.  Someone has to go and since DeAngelo Williams just signed a lucrative contract extension the popular consensus is that Stewart is on the trading block.

The real question becomes “where does he go?“

My thought is that Jonathan Stewart could be dealt to the Cleveland Browns.  Peyton Hillis is gone and Montario Hardesty has had significant health problems.  Stewart is young and established and could really help a struggling Cleveland Browns team.  This move would actually have substantial impact on the 2012 NFL draft.  If Stewart becomes a Brown for the 22nd overall pick (hypothetically) Cleveland would be able to truly look at Ryan Tannehill at #4 overall.

Many people have knocked the idea of Cleveland drafting Tannehill that early because of the legitimate talent on the board and Cleveland’s needs.  With someone like Trent Richardson still available and the Browns having a need at the RB position it would be a tough choice to not take him.   However, if they fill that need with a top 12 back like Stewart, the most prominent need becomes QB.

Tannehill might not be top-10 talent but he does have the makings of a franchise quarterback.  If it’s one thing that I’ve figured out while studying the league, it’s that a franchise quarterback supersedes all other needs.  Tannehill could help bring the Browns back to relevance and fans back in the seats.  The price may be high for someone like Stewart but this is a move that needs to be made.

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