New York Jets: Right Tackle Remains Wayne Hunter

After Jeff Otah failed his physical, it appears Wayne Hunter will remain the New York Jets right tackle

After tackle Jeff Otah failed his initial physical a week ago, it was hard not to take a pessimistic view of his future with the New York Jets. The spin control started yesterday as comments were leaked out to the media about Otah not being likely to pass and people doubting he could help the team if he did. Rex Ryan simultaneously praised Wayne Hunter’s performance at camp so far in seeming preparation for Otah being shipped back to Carolina today.

Sure enough, Otah failed his physical and has left the Jets exactly where they started a week ago at right tackle. It is Wayne Hunter and a bunch of players on the roster who aren’t viable competitors to him.

Don’t buy the Mike Tannenbaum line of BS about Austin Howard being a competitor for the spot. If he was, the Jets wouldn’t have traded for Otah in the first place or signed journeyman Stephon Heyer. Vladimir Ducasse has been shifted to guard permanently to compete with Matt Slauson so he isn’t in the mix either. Everything Tannenbaum said today indicates that the Jets will likely now bring in another player to compete with Hunter.

Vernon Carey is a logical assumption, however the Jets could wait a week or so to see if there are any cuts in training camp or trades to be had with teams with depth at the position. With each passing day it does become more likely that Hunter will be the right tackle week one versus Buffalo.

If the Jets weren’t fully confident in Hunter (and the original decision to trade for Otah implies that) it begs the question why they didn’t pursue a player like Eric Winston in the off-season. They are now at the point where they will be putting a band-aid on a position that could remain a problem area in 2012.

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New York Jets Trade For Tackle Jeff Otah

The New York Jets have traded an undisclosed draft pick for Carolina Panthers tackle Jeff Otah

The New York Jets have traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Carolina Panthers for tackle Jeff Otah, a former first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has started 29 games for the Panthers but has been very banged up the past two seasons, with knee and back injuries. Otah has only played in 4 games over the past two seasons but is a “dominant run blocking right tackle” when health.

There have been questions about his conditioning and toughness in the past. However, if he can stay on the field, Otah would be a substantial upgrade over Wayne Hunter. At a minimum, this is the competition that the Jets needed to bring in for Hunter who didn’t deserve to have the job handed to him. The Jets aren’t going to cut Hunter because of the money they owe him but now have a viable threat to his position on the roster. There had been some chatter about potentially adding Vernon Carey but Otah has a much greater upside.

This will likely be an open competition from day one in camp and further proves the Jets have zero faith in players like Vlad Ducasse or Austin Howard to be major contributors.

Otah is 6’6, 330 pounds and attended the University of Pittsburgh.

It is a fair assumption that the compensation will be determined by Otah hitting a certain snap count, look for the pick to slide anywhere from a 4th to 7th rounder. It is a small risk for a player with as much upside as Otah, particularly at a positon of need for the Jets whose depth is looking much better now at tackle, as they also have another former starter Stephon Heyer on the roster.

Do not be surprised if the Jets make another move or two in the coming days. They still need a blocking tight end and depth at running back.