Maybe Hurney should have said, "Blackjack, no trade back." Either way, the Jets would be in a rough spot right now.
The right tackle spot was a troublesome one for the Jets last season.
The starter, Wayne Hunter, who was so awful he earned the nickname "Turnstile" last season, lived up to that reputation by allowing 11 sacks on quarterback Mark Sanchez and grading out as one of Pro Football Focus' worst offensive tackles in football.
They had hoped that Otah could compete with Wayne Hunter, if not supplant him at that position.
But when the trade was first announced, the prefix to anything regarding Otah was, "if he can stay healthy." Perhaps that was a bit too farsighted; perhaps the prefix should have read, "if he is healthy."
But all that's in the rearview now. With Otah officially completing his round-trip visit to New York, what's next for the Jets?
Now, they're back to hoping that either:
- Hunter turns it around, or
- someone proves enough to take his starting spot.
Many had assumed that the Jets would roll into the 2012 season with Hunter as their right tackle, after both head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum reiterated time and time again that Hunter was the starter, even if they had put the "right now" suffix onto that statement multiple times.
Only offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has been non-committal about that, but the fact that they went after Otah in the first place shows that they are uncomfortable with the thought of Hunter at right tackle again.
Hunter is owed a good deal of money in 2012—a $2.5 million cap hit, according to Spotrac—but the Jets may still be keeping their fingers crossed to get something, anything, out of their depth and undrafted free agent offensive tackles John Cullen and Anthony Parker.
Cullen was a starting right tackle at Utah, and he played multiple spots along the line. Even as an undrafted free agent, he will seriously compete for a roster spot and could even compete for playing time at any number of spots. If he shows enough in camp, one of those spots could be right tackle.
One object of affection for Rex Ryan this offseason has been offensive linemen Vlad Ducasse. He's been getting first-team reps at left guard, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post, but if Matt Slauson wins the left guard spot in camp, Ducasse could be a candidate to back up Hunter. At that point, if Hunter underachieves during the season, they could perhaps slide Ducasse over to right tackle.
The thought should rightfully be enough to make Jets fans cringe. Ducasse hasn't shown much more promise over the life of his two-year career than Hunter showed last year.
Where questions once had answers, answers came into question with Otah's first failed physical. The second failed physical gave the Jets their answer, just not the answer they may have been looking for.
Just remember: When you double-dip, you're not allowed to walk away—or are you?
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