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Jeff Otah to New York Jets a risk-free tackle upgrade

The New York Jets claimed all offseason that they believed in Wayne Hunter. Then they pulled the trigger on a trade that proved they didn't.

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Don't view Jeff Otah -- acquired Monday from the Carolina Panthers for a conditional draft pick -- as competing against Hunter in Jets training camp. The truth is it's Otah versus the troublesome left knee that's forced him to miss 31 of his last 35 games.

If Otah is healthy enough to play, he's going to get the first crack at the Jets' right tackle spot. Hunter was a mess there last season, and it was genuinely surprising the Jets hadn't acted aggressively to upgrade through free agency or the draft.

Better late than never, and a healthy Otah represents a significant upgrade, especially for a team intent on returning to "ground and pound."

It's a relatively risk-free move for the Jets, but don't assume they've solved their offensive line concerns with one deft transaction. Otah has baggage -- all those missed games on a knee that doctors have declared structurally sound made him an unpopular player in Carolina, perhaps as unpopular as Hunter was with the Jets.

This really is a case of the upside being as high as the downside is low. The Panthers loved Otah enough to trade up in 2008 to draft him 19th overall. He has a ton of natural ability, but will a change of scenery (and several months of recovery time) allow Otah to finally reach his potential?

It's a gamble worth taking for a Jets team that's low on options.

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