The Bills signed Cincinnati Bengals free agent center Russell Bodine to a two-year contract Monday. Here are five things to know about him:
1. Starting pedigree: You have to go back to Bodine's final season at North Carolina to find a game in which he did not start. Bodine started all 64 games of his NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played in all 13 games as a junior at North Carolina, moving to various spots on the offensive line as needed. He started all 12 games as a sophomore for the Tar Heels. How rare is Bodine's durability in starting every game of his first four NFL seasons. Only 22 offensive linemen have done it since 2000.
2. Early call: Despite being a fourth-round pick, the Bengals showed no hesitation in naming Bodine as starting center as a rookie. He took first-team reps beginning in minicamp and started the first two preseason games. "That kid has so much talent; he's loaded with talent," offensive line coach Paul Alexander told Cincinnati.com at the time. "He has a tough physical demeanor and he can block the big nose guards in our division. He's exactly the type of player we've been looking for."
3. Effort to keep him?: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in January that he hoped the team was able to keep Bodine, because he thought Bodine could benefit from time with new offensive line coach Frank Pollack and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. “He’s done nothing but continue to grow and get better and frankly grow into a guy you can count on to help lead the football team,” Lewis said at the Senior Bowl. “I feel really good about him.” But he also noted that the sides needed to find a middle ground on an agreement. Clearly, that was not the case and the Bengals opted to let Bodine become a free agent.
4. The grades: Bodine was ranked No. 28 among the 39 qualifying centers, according to Pro Football Focus. His pass blocking efficiency was 97.6 percent, ranked No. 14 among 29 centers with 360 snaps.
5. Future stars: Bodine played at vaunted prep school, Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. His father is a teacher there. He was a high school teammate with a number of future NFL players, including running back Carlos Hyde, and played on an offensive line that featured Morgan Moses, now with the Washington Redskins.