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Six Thoughts About the Wayne Hunter Trade

The beleagured tackle was traded to St. Louis for Jason Smith

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012  |  Updated 2:46 PM EDT
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New York Jets 2012-13 Season in Photos

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We don't have Wayne Hunter to kick around anymore.

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Brian Schottenheimer to the rescue!

The former Jets offensive coordinator found a home in St. Louis and he came calling for Wayne Hunter on Monday. The Jets were able to trade the symbol for everything wrong with their offense to the Rams for Jason Smith, the second pick of the 2009 draft and a Hunter-like figure on the Rams offense.

It's a challenge trade, as far as a challenge trade can involve two players who project as sixth linemen this season, and such trades create a flurry of responses. Here's six of them to chew on for a while.

1. It hasn't been the best offseason for Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, but give him the credit he deserves for this deal on two different fronts. The first is that he was able to get anything more than a bucket of warm spit in exchange for Hunter because, frankly, players with as much bad tape as Hunter are usually as marketable as cereal dusted with the Ebola virus.

The other area deserving of attention is that Tannenbaum and the Jets finally admitted they were wrong about Hunter, and this Jets regime has not been good about accepting hard truths like that over the last couple of years. They might still be pushing guys like Shonn Greene and Eric Smith in the face of overwhelming evidence, but perhaps there's a reckoning coming on other fronts now that the Jets have embraced something other than covering their own rear ends.

2. Hunter is a symbol for everything that's gone wrong in the last two years, but it's nice to see a guy who handled his benching with class get a chance to go somewhere else. He was heckled mercilessly on Sunday night and it would have been a full year of that for a guy who should have never been in a position to fail in the first place.

3. It's weird to make a trade for a backup tackle making more than most of your starting linemen, but the idea that it's a problem is a tough sell. There are no points for saving money, especially when Hunter's salary got in the way of the Jets making moves earlier in the offseason.

4. We did refer to Smith as a backup tackle up there and there should be no illusions about the player coming back to the Jets in this deal. Smith has been a massive bust since going No. 2 overall and he isn't likely to turn into Orlando Pace now that he left Pace's old team.

5. Having said that, Smith's 25 and there's a chance he'll show something more now that he's with a new team. It worked with Aaron Maybin last season and the Jets don't lose anything by taking a risk that lightning will strike twice.

6. Lost in all the focus on Hunter has been the fact that Austin Howard did a perfectly reasonable job at right tackle against the Panthers. The Jets offense couldn't capitalize on the fact that there wasn't a turnstile at the position anymore, but perhaps that's a good thing.

Getting rid of Hunter, from both the starting lineup and the team, gets rid of an easy excuse for why things aren't going well for the Jets offense. If that newfound ability to admit when things have gone horribly wrong remains, that might actually be a good thing for the offense because the Jets should be able to start addressing other problems with the unit.

It would be nice if such things happened more than 10 days before the start of the season, but following the Jets lays bare the simple truth that you can't get everything you want. Keep your eyes on what you need, even if you get it a little too late.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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