NFL Rumors: Will the New York Jets Stick with Wayne Hunter?

By Christopher Gamble

The New York Jets haven’t been the subject of many NFL rumors lately but that could change.  Right now the Jets have a major problem on their hands in right tackle Wayne Hunter.  Wayne Hunter went from being a toll booth, where occasionally pass rushers were stopped to an EZ-Pass lane.  After allowing 2.5 sacks in the first half of the 26-3 loss to the New York Giants last Saturday, it became clear what should have been evident after last season, that Wayne Hunter cannot be a starting right tackle in the NFL.

Last season Hunter was one of the worst offensive tackles in the league.  Last season Hunter was supposed to be supplanted by Vladimir Ducasse but so far Ducasse has been a bust as a tackle and has been moved inside to guard.  The Jets tried to bring in Jeff Otah in a trade with the Carolina Panthers but the trade was nullified after Otah failed two physicals in a week.

The Jets have few options at this point.  Austin Howard is an option but he hasn’t looked particularly good in pass protection either.  Former New York Giants offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie might be the best option out there but McKenzie so far has not received a phone call.

Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan is a stubborn man.  He often believes he can teach anyone to play football but he might finally be starting to see that Wayne Hunter might end any media-driven quarterback controversy by injuring every quarterback the Jets put back there.  Ryan seemed to soften his determination to start Hunter as the week wore on saying essentially on Monday that he likes to see competition for starting jobs.

Ryan hasn’t decided.  Or maybe he has and is just being cryptic.  Obviously the situation has deteriorated to the point that the Jets reached out to former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Vernon Carey.  However, the eight-year veteran is now coaching high school football at Miami Northwestern High School and is likely done with the NFL after announcing his retirement on August 5th of this year.

If the Jets are willing to try and woo Carey out of retirement and take a chance on Otah, a man who hasn’t played a full season of football since being drafted in 2008 and has managed only 4 games over the last two years, who else might the Jets try to bring in?

McKenzie, makes perfect sense for the Jets.  He began his career with the Jets in 2001 before signing with the Giants prior to the 2005 season.  He still has some football left in him and is only 32 years-old and has played in every game for the last two years, including the playoffs.  McKenzie is, without a doubt, an upgrade over Hunter.  Whether or not the Jets will have enough money under the salary cap is another question.  Right now, the Jets sit a little over $5 million under the salary cap.  McKenzie made $4.3 million last season with the Giants but he may take somewhere in the realm of $2.5 million.  It is a lot of money for a right tackle who might be nearing the end but it is much better than having to replace your quarterback on a weekly basis after he gets pummeled by defensive ends who go over Wayne Hunter like a pebble on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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