Geoff Hangartner: Carolina Panthers 'blindsided' me


As we wind our way through training camp, unexpected cuts are part of the process.

The Carolina Panthers releasing Geoff Hangartner on Thursday qualifies. The eight-year veteran was slated to start at right guard this season, one of the few battle-tested veterans on a line that promises to struggle in 2013.

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Hangartner signed a three-year, $4.85 million deal with the Panthers in 2012 after two seasons with the Bills. He was due an affordable $1.575 million in 2013, so the split says more about his camp performance than his contract. In Hangartner's absence, untested rookie Edmund Kugbila will compete for a starting role after missing most of the offseason with a left leg injury.

Hangartner's 83 career starts include 12 from last season. Eight came at center, where he ranked 32nd among his peers by ProFootballFocus. In his four starts at guard, Hangartner struggled as a run blocker.

"I didn't have my best year last year," he told The Charlotte Observer. "But I definitely was a little blindsided by the move because I can play center and guard."

His versatility was important to the Panthers when Hangartner signed that contract. Not so much one year later.

UPDATE: Steve Reed of The Associated Press tweeted that fifth-year pro Garry Williams started at right guard in Hangartner's absence during Thursday's practice. Williams started eight games on the right side for the Panthers last season, grading out as the 40th best guard in the NFL, per ProFootballFocus. That's eight spots lower than Hangartner, but Williams played well down the stretch, especially as a run blocker.

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