As we reported yesterday, the Buffalo Bills hosted Panthers guard/center Geoff Hangartner today at One Bills Drive. The team has announced that they have come to an agreement with Hangartner. Terms are undisclosed. Hangartner likely becomes the team's new starting center, replacing Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler, both unrestricted free agents.
The 6'5", 315-pound Hangartner has 27 career starts, including eight last season, when the Panthers were the NFL's third-best rushing outfit, averaging over 152 yards per game. Just 26 years old, Hangartner was a fifth-round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2005 NFL Draft; he was selected a full round later than two other centers Bills fans may be familiar with - Baltimore's Jason Brown and the aforementioned Preston.
Known more as a technician than as a power blocker, Hangartner has a lot to prove in an AFC East division featuring three opposing 3-4 defenses. Still, Hangartner is a smart player with enough punch to hold his own when he's on his game. He's an excellent angle blocker with above average athleticism, and he's as technically sound as can be reasonably expected for someone who has never been a full-time starter. Intangibles such as field awareness, instincts and untapped potential are strong selling points for the four-year pro.
Hangartner was reportedly Buffalo's highest-priority visit, as the team ranked only Brown - who signed with the Rams for over $7 million annually on Friday - ranked ahead of Hangartner on their list of available linemen this off-season. As we explained last night, the team planned on putting the full-court press on Hangartner to get a deal done. Their success plugs a significant hole along their re-tooling offensive line.