Monday, July 23, 2012
Analysis of the Otah trade
By Rich Cimini
Immediate thoughts on the Jets acquiring OT Jeff Otah from the Panthers:
1. Sources say Otah will compete with incumbent RT Wayne Hunter, but know this: If Otah is healthy (big if) and in shape, he'll be the opening-day starter. The Jets have little confidence in the beleaguered Hunter and, according to a scout I spoke with, Otah is simply better than Hunter. Remember, he was the 19th overall pick in 2008.
2. At 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, Otah is a better fit in the Jets' run-oriented scheme than Hunter, who isn't the kind of road grader you want at right tackle. In 2008, the Panthers traded up for Otah because they felt he'd be a perfect strong-side tackle in John Fox's run-heavy offense, but now the Panthers have a new coaching staff and they want athletic linemen to suit Cam Newton's improv skills.
3. Hunter's legion of critics might be celebrating the trade, but don't get too carried away. Otah comes with his share of baggage, so he's anything but a sure thing. He has played in only 29 games in four seasons, having missed 31 of the last 35 games because of injuries to his left knee. In fact, he tweaked the knee last month in an OTA, setting off alarm bells in Carolina. It turned out to be no serious damage, according to Panthers coach Ron Rivera. We'll see if Otah passes the Jets' physical.
4. The Jets got him for an undisclosed conditional pick. Considering his injury history and the fact that he's entering the final year of his rookie contract, it's probably a sixth- or seventh-round pick that could escalate based on playing time. It's a relatively risk-free move for the Jets.
5. It's unbelievable, the amount of lip service the Jets paid to Hunter in the offseason. Remember Dave DeGuglielmo's pro-Hunter rant in May? The new O-Line coach told reporters, "Until they tell me otherwise, until they ship him out of this building or until they shoot me dead in my office, that sonofagun is going to be the starting right tackle. And he's going to play well." What a bunch of hooey that was. Also remember that, when teams talk about their own players, actions speak a lot louder than words. And this trade speaks loudly.