The teams later confirmed the trade.
The Rams initiated the trade, a source told Breer and NFL.com and NFL Network's Steve Wyche. Their pursuit of Hunter was influenced by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who coached the tackle for five seasons in New York. Shottenheimer used Hunter as a jumbo tight end and swing tackle and believes he'd do well with a fresh start.
The clubs felt a new setting would do both players well.
Smith was the No. 2 overall draft pick out in the 2009 NFL Draft, but the Baylor All-American never lived up to his potential with the Rams. He was envisioned to be the team's left tackle for a decade, but concussion issues and subpar play on the right side defined his three seasons. He recently lost his starting job to Barry Richardson.
It was an encouraging performance for Howard, but the Jets still felt the need to improve the weakest link on their line.
Smith -- who took a huge pay cut this spring -- is guaranteed $4 million this season, $1.55 million more than Hunter. Smith is due a whopping $12 million next season, but ATL's Bryan McIntyre reports that contract voids five days before the start of the 2013 league year if he plays 31 percent of his team's snaps.