Analyzing the Hunter-Smith trade

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
11:52
PM ET


Some quick takeaways on the Wayne Hunter-for-Jason Smith trade with the Rams:

1. This amounts to a swap of disappointments. The only difference is, Smith, 26, is five years younger than Hunter, which means he at least has a chance to get better. Both players are due guaranteed money for 2012, so a trade was the only way their respective teams could get rid of them.

2. In a span of four days, Hunter went from starting right tackle to left out. It was a bad personnel move by the Jets, re-signing him to a four-year, $14 million contract last summer, but at least GM Mike Tannenbaum had the guts to admit it. The question is, did he wait too long?

3. Basically, the Jets traded a $2.45 million backup for a $4 million backup. This makes no sense from a roster-economics standpoint -- unless they expect Smith to start at some point this season. Hunter is under contract through 2014, but Smith will almost certainly be a free agent after the season. When he restructured his contract last April, taking a massive pay cut, he put in a voidable for 2013. In other words, he'll be a goner. Unless Tannenbaum has something up his sleeve with regard to reworking the deal, a $4 million salary is too much for a one-year backup.

4. It'll be interesting to see how Smith's $4 million plays in the locker room. Just recently, the Jets forced starting LG Matt Slauson to take a $258,000 pay cut, lowering his salary to $1.1 million. RG Brandon Moore, one of the most respected players on the team, would be making less than Smith at $2.75 million. Awk-ward.

5. Hunter is a classy, hard-working guy, but he had to go. It got too nasty with the fans, evidenced by the ugly incident Sunday night by the Jets' bench. The fans were riding Hunter and he had to be restrained by teammate Vladimir Ducasse, according to a team source. Hunter will like it better in St. Louis, where he'll play for a familiar face, former Jets O.C. Brian Schottenheimer.

6. The Jets think Smith can be another Aaron Maybin -- a top draft pick who went bust with his first team and benefited from a change of scenery. Smith has physical talent; after all, he was the second overall pick in 2009. The Jets now have the second, fifth (Mark Sanchez) and 11th (Maybin) picks from the '09 draft. Too bad they can't work a deal for the 13th pick, LB Brian Orakpo.

7. The Jets said last Thursday that Hunter wouldn't be traded, so the perception is they were misleading. They wanted to keep him, a source said, but the Rams called and things changed. Of course, if they really believed in Hunter, the Jets could've said, "Thanks, but no thanks." And now I'm hearing the Jets actually called a team out west before the Rams called them.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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