Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; St Louis Rams tackle Jason Smith (72) in action against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Only in the age of instant and constant media would the trade of backup offensive tackles get this much attention. Of course, Jason Smith was no ordinary backup tackle; he was one of the most spectacular draft busts in the history of a franchise with no shortage of draft busts.
Let's take one last look at reactions to the trade, and think about how this might impact the depth chart.My initial, visceral reaction to the trade was one of shock. Smith had been playing better in the preseason, showing better technique on the field. Hunter gave the Jets nothing but problems, and he was benched in the middle of the preseason. When you have a quarterback struggling to overcome poor play under pressure, picking up some of the league's worst offensive tackles is a concern.
But sometimes you have to pay to make your problems go away.
Re the Jason Smith deal for the Jets, I won't kill it. But he was a massive disappointment to Rams. Not a competitive player.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 28, 2012
Smith was a drain on the Rams, almost from the day they drafted him. Peter King is a pretty well connected guy, to state the obvious, his take on Smith's passion is not to be ignored. That's been the knock on Smith for some time now, and this move was more about exorcising the ghosts of the past and getting rid of a player whose level of effort did not fit with the expectations of a new head coach. This move, we're told, was strictly business.
It also frees up a little jack to help sign James Laurinaitis to a contract extension he rightly deserves.
From the Jets' perspective it was good business too. Hunter's play rubbed fans the wrong way, to say the least. According to the New York Post, Hunter had to be restrained from taking on some hecklers.
According to two sources, Hunter screamed at some fans who were heckling him late in Sunday's game. It got so bad, the sources said, teammate Vlad Ducasse had to restrain Hunter from going after the fans.
Both teams needed to get rid their tackles to make a clean start, desperately.
As for Wayne Hunter, there is no guarantee that he will make the final cuts. If his confidence is shot, as the NYP article suggests, and Fisher and Schotty can't restore it, he will not last. The Rams have some swing options on the roster that could negate the need for Hunter.
Quinn Ojinnaka can play tackle, and if the coaches feel like Rokevious Watkins is ready to take over at guard, they could make that move. Watkins himself is listed as a tackle, but he's been playing guard with the Rams. Harvey Dahl is another option, though Paul Boudreau is the one that moved him to the inside in Atlanta. Other options to take over at guard include Robert Turner and Bryan Mattison.
The other tackles on the roster, beyond Rodger Saffold, Barry Richardson and Hunter, include Joe Long and Jose Valdez. The later is the most likely option to get spot on the final roster, and has done some fill-in work for Saffold.
More likely than not, Hunter stays. The offensive coordinator knows him and a fresh start might do him some good. The key will be to watch what happens on Friday, when NFL teams slash their rosters from 75 to 53 players. There will be some options for offensive line depth available, and at least a few of those players will represent an upgrade.