After a tumultuous run as the Jets habitually criticized and scrutinized starting Right Tackle, Wayne Hunter has seen his last days in New York. The Jets have agreed to send the struggling Tackle to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for fellow Tackle, Jason Smith.
Smith, the 2nd overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, was heavily touted coming out of Baylor, but has failed to live up to expectations, and has since been deemed a draft bust. However, the Jets are hoping they can duplicate the revival of Aaron Maybin with Smith. A fresh start and new coaching staff can be beneficial to a young player who has struggled early in his career.
Regardless of how Smith turns out, the focal point of the story here is the departure of Wayne Hunter. Hunter has been under heavy criticism after a very troubling 2011, a year where he was recognized as the clear weak link in the Jets offensive line. New York opted not to release Hunter after the season, guaranteeing his salary for this year, insisting that a new offensive coaching staff would help the athletically gifted tackle reach his potential.
However, in his first action this preseason Hunter looked anything but improved and was embarrassed throughout national media after getting overly exposed by the Giants ferocious pass rush. Hunter finally seemed emotionally checked out after asking to be excused from practice on Jets family night last week, a notion further indicated by his benching to Austin Howard, announced prior to the Carolina game. Whether or not a fresh start will help his play, Hunter was mentally worn out by New York, and had no future of improving here.