Bills shore up line with Hangartner

Free agent lineman signs with Bills in lieu of Derrick Dockery's awkward exit. Hangartner is expected to start immediately at center...

The Bills may have found the antidote to those tricky 3-4 defenses.

After going 0-6 in the AFC East against the 3-4 alignment, Buffalo took its first step in addressing the problem. The team announced today that it has signed Carolina center/guard Geoff Hangartner.

Hangartner helped the Panther set franchise records in rushing yards (2,437) and fewest sacks allowed. He played in all 16 games, starting in eight at guard and center. Per team policy, terms of Hangartner's contract were not disclosed.

At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, he is expected to replace Duke Preston at center on the Bills' front line. Preston struggled against nose guards Kris Jenkins, Jason Ferguson and Vince Wilfork last season. In Buffalo's season-killing three-game losing streak against its three division foes, starting running back Marshawn Lynch averaged only 41 yards per game.

Hangartner is looking forward to facing the behemoths in the AFC East.

"We've got some great nose guards in this division, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to," he said. "I like playing against Pro Bowlers and I know Kris having been a teammate of his for three years in Carolina. He's a heck of a player and I know the other guys are too. It'll be a fun challenge."

Hangartner believes Lynch and Fred Jackson could bust out the same way DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart did on his Carolina team. Of course, Lynch could be facing a suspension from the league for his recent gun charges. But Hangartner sees potential.

"Those guys remind me a lot of the two guys we had in Carolina," said Hangartner. "They've got a good tandem here. They want to run the ball, they're physical runners and run hard and make good cuts and that's an exciting thing for an offensive lineman to have two good backs like that."

Hangartner's signing co-insides with Dockery's bizarre exit. What appeared to be a simple salary-saving release could have been a trade. The Washington Post is reporting that the Detroit Lions and the Bills had agreed to a trade involving Dockery but paperwork wasn't filed in time. Go figure. Two of worst teams this decade bungled a simple trade. Instead of getting something for Dockery (probably an above-average draft choice), the Bills simply dumped his contract. Dockery has since re-joined the Washington Redskins for five years, $27 million.

Regardless, Hangartner's signing was key. Buffalo needed to change something up on the offensive line after getting pushed around in the division last year. Hangartner brings four years of experience in Carolina's successful scheme.

He thinks he'll fit right into Buffalo's offense.

"They run a lot of zone which I'm comfortable with," he said. "They run some power which I also think is a great play, a lot of one-back stuff, a lot of two tight ends. And I think they have a good offensive setup, a good scheme and we talked a little bit about the scheme today and protections. I'm really excited about working with those guys."

We'll have more on Hangartner as it comes.

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