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Bills sign OL Anderson to three-year deal

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (March 31, 2005) -- Guard Bennie Anderson signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, bolstering the team's depleted offensive line.

Anderson spent the past four seasons mostly as a starting right guard with Baltimore before becoming a free agent in March when the Ravens did not retain him. His deal with Buffalo also features a $400,000 bonus if he meets certain playing-time incentives.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 345 pounds, Anderson is expected to take over at left guard. Lawrence Smith and Ross Tucker split time at that position for the Bills last season.

"This is an awesome day," Anderson said. "To come to a franchise with so much tradition and such a great fan base, what more can you ask for?"

Anderson had been hoping to sign with the Bills since he visited with the team's coaching staff a few weeks ago. He left that meeting so impressed with Buffalo that he canceled trips to Carolina and Tampa Bay, two other teams interested in signing him.

Addressing the offensive line has been Buffalo's priority this spring after losing three players to free agency, including starting left tackle Jonas Jennings, who signed with San Francisco.

Anderson is the second offensive lineman the Bills have added this free agency period. Earlier, they signed guard Mike Gandy.

Anderson started 12 games last season and 46 overall with the Ravens. In 2003, he played on a line that helped Jamal Lewis finish with 2,066 yards rushing, the second best total in NFL history.

That's an important factor for a Bills team that under second-year coach Mike Mularkey is prepared to stress the running attack behind Willis McGahee.

A Tennessee State product, Anderson opened his pro career in 2001 with the Chicago Enforcers of the defunct XFL before signing with Baltimore later that year.

St. Louis initially signed him in 2000 as an undrafted rookie before waiving him in training camp.

Anderson said he's eager to report for the Bills' offseason conditioning program on Monday.

"It's been a pretty long offseason so it's time to go back to work," he said.

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