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Jets Land Jeff Otah in Trade with Panthers: What It Means for the New York Jets

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Jets Land Jeff Otah in Trade with Panthers: What It Means for the New York Jets
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Of the many positions where the Jets had needs entering the 2012 offseason, it looked like right tackle was the only spot where they hadn't at least tried to make an adjustment.

Until around 5 p.m. ET on Monday evening, when the Jets announced a trade for Panthers offensive tackle Jeff Otah.

Whatever that draft pick is, I can assure you it's worth it to get a potential replacement for Wayne Hunter, the embattled right tackle of 2011 whose give-up-ground style of play led to nicknames such as "Turnstile" and "Doormat," among others.

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Now, with this latest trade, add "Turkey" to the list of nicknames. If Otah can stay healthy, it's all but certain he'll be the starter.

That is a big, bold, italic and underlined if. Otah missed all of 2010 with a left knee injury and surgery, and his 2011 campaign was cut short at just four games due to a back injury, as well as another injury to his left knee and more surgery.

Put plainly, Otah has played just four games in the past two seasons. And the news of the trade comes the day after the Panthers were reported (by Pro Football Weekly) to be losing patience with Otah due to his inability to stay healthy:

While swelling in his left knee sidelined him earlier this month, the Panthers are expecting him to be ready to play when training camp begins. Head coach Ron Rivera has made Otah no guarantees as far as a starting job, though, while praising the performance of Byron Bell, who started 12 games at right tackle while Otah was out last season. 

The Panthers would be thrilled to see Otah put doubts about his work ethic and durability to rest in camp, but there are some inside the organization who are not overly optimistic about his chances of returning to the promising form he once displayed.

So let's not get ahead of ourselves; Otah still has to get to full health and prove he can stay there.

But if he's healthy, the Jets will be way better for it.

Quarterback Mark Sanchez won't be running for his life and may actually get to do a naked bootleg where he rolls right, which was a missing component in last year's offense and one of Sanchez's strong suits. 

Even if Otah's a little rusty after so little playing time over the past two seasons, he can't be much worse than Hunter was last year in giving up 11 sacks and ranking as Pro Football Focus' second-worst right tackle.

Running back Shonn Greene now has a solid run-blocking offensive line in front of him. The Jets had a hard time running behind Hunter last year, and bringing Otah into the fold gives them at least another option if Hunter continues to disappoint.

New York didn't have much of a choice but to move on from Hunter, and in waiting until the last minute to land a promising potential replacement, it did so in dramatic fashion.

Just business as usual for the New York Jets, right?

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.

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