Monday, July 23, 2012
Jets acquire OT Jeff Otah
By Rich Cimini
Concerned about incumbent right tackle Wayne Hunter, the New York Jets tried to solidify the position Monday by trading for the injury-plagued Jeff Otah from the Carolina Panthers, the teams announced.
The Jets sent a conditional draft pick to the Panthers, who made Otah a first-round pick in 2008. A source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the pick is a seventh-round selection.
Otah and Hunter will compete for the starting job, according to league sources. The Jets have no plans to release Hunter, whose $2.45 million salary is guaranteed.
The Jets, who report to training camp Thursday, felt uneasy about the prospect of going into the season with no insurance at right tackle. Hunter struggled mightily last season in his first full year as a starter. He allowed 8½ sacks and committed a team-high 11 penalties, becoming a lightning rod for fan criticism.
Throughout the offseason, the Jets sent mixed signals on their plans for Hunter. General manager Mike Tannenbaum said after the draft that Hunter would have to compete for a starting job, fueling speculation about Hunter's future.
But a couple of weeks later, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo offered an effusive vote of confidence for Hunter.
"This guy is the starting right tackle," DeGugliemo said at the time. "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."
The front office apparently didn't share the same sentiment. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound Otah was the 19th overall pick in 2008, but his career has been slowed by a series of injuries to his left knee.
Otah has played in only 29 games (all starts), having missed 31 of the last 35 games due to knee injuries. He was placed on injured reserve last October, and he tweaked the same knee last month in an OTA practice. An MRI exam revealed no significant damage, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
Otah is due to make $1.1 million in the final year of his rookie contract. At the very least, the trade will bolster the depth of the offensive line.
New York also put four players on the physically unable to perform list: safety LaRon Landry, rookie linebacker Demario Davis, receiver Jordan White and guard Terrence Campbell.
Landry and White both have foot injuries and will continue to rehab with team trainers. Campbell and Davis strained their hamstrings during a conditioning run and will be day to day when training camp begins Friday.
Davis is the team's third-round draft pick from Arkansas State. Coach Rex Ryan compared him to Ray Lewis for his leadership qualities.
Landry signed with the Jets in March and they hope he will be a significant part of the secondary. He is coming off injuries to his Achilles tendon and heel that shortened his season last year with the Washington Redskins. The 27-year-old Landry was with the Jets during the first few weeks of the offseason program before heading out on his own to rehab rather than stay around the team and its medical staff.
He finished each of the past two seasons on injured reserve and played in just 17 games.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.