Nov 26, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Carolina Panthers guard Geoff Hangartner (63) takes a drink prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Panthers defeated the Eagles 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers Release Guard Geoff Hangartner

In a very surprising move Thursday, the Carolina Panthers released 2012 starting right guard, Geoff Hangartner.

Geoff also was the team’s starting center when Ryan Kalil went down with a fractured foot in early October 2012.

With Valdosta State rookie Edmund Kugbila nursing a strained hamstring, this particular move makes me wonder what’s going on.

Carolina Panthers General Manager David Gettleman has seemed to make prudent moves thus far, so there must be some sound logic behind it.

At the moment, rumors abound that the team wants to bring back Travelle Wharton, currently a free agent after not catching on with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The move certainly is a head-scratcher considering the fact Hangartner started four games at RG and eight at center. Garry Williams, who was brought in as a late desperation move for a warm body at the RG spot, remains with the team.

Kugbila has yet to practice at all because of his leg issues and really needs as much time as he can get, coming from the tiny “backwater” school in the grand scheme of things. The knock on Kugbila coming in has been that very fact – it’s a big leap from an SEC school to the NFL as it is, but a massive leap from a small school.

Just look at LG Amini Silatolu, who has been the offensive line’s only “star” thus far in camp. As a rookie, he was a liability in the first half of the season in 2012 before shoring up his game into a more solid piece as time went on. He’s opened camp slimmer, faster, more athletic, and appears to have made HIS leap in the early going.

Problem is that he is the left guard. The team really has no proven, viable starter at right guard now – even including Garry Williams – as he struggled in his time with the team late last year.

I’m behind Gettleman’s decision as a default stance due to his seemingly shrewd, low-cost acquisitions this off-season of Ted Ginn, Jr., D.J. Moore, Mike Mitchell, and Drayton Florence. He’s made the most of a difficult salary cap situation, and Hangartner was slated to make about $1.5 million this season.

He was signed to a 3-year contract before the 2012 season began, and it is as yet unclear what sort of a cap hit the team will take this year and next regarding Hangartner’s salary but I’m sure more information will be forthcoming.

So far, no statement has been made by team officials, but keep your eyes and ears peeled as I’m certain the questions will come.

On the surface at the moment, it seems to be a setback with an already thin right side of the offensive line but I’ll reserve final judgement until some explanations start flowing from the Panthers’ organization.

Looks like this little Piggy is staying home today.

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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