The Carolina Panthers made a wise move today when they shipped offensive tackle Jeff Otah to the New York Jets for an undisclosed conditional draft choice.
Otah is gone? Good riddance. There are some players who look great coming off the team bus and end up being nothing much. Otah was one of those. (The opposite is also true -- there are guys who you wouldn't look twice at coming off a team bus if you didn't know who they were and they end up being incredible. Steve Smith is one of those).
At 6-6 and 330 pounds (at least), Otah could block out the sun when he was in your midst. I'm 6-foot-2, and Otah is the guy I feel smallest next to in the Panther locker room.
But he absolutely could not stay healthy. In the past two seasons, Otah has missed 28 of a possible 32 games due to knee problems. That is not a guy I'm going to trust to come back and guard Cam Newton's right side (the way he prefers to scramble) if I'm the Panthers.
When Otah played -- and he started 29 of a possible 64 games for the Panthers all told in four seasons -- he was decent. He would occasionally steamroll somebody and was better as a run-blocker. But I never thought he was nearly as good overall as left tackle Jordan Gross (who, like Otah, was a first-round pick but has turned out a whole lot better). And his work ethic was questionable as he attempted injury rehab.
I'm not saying it's Otah's fault he got hurt. Big guys' knees sometimes simply break down (Kris Jenkins was another example, although he had some great years for the Panthers before that happened).
So best to cut bait with Otah. Because of the injury problems, he was one of the Panthers' few misfires in recent years with No.1 draft picks (Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Jon Beason being some of the bull's-eyes).
As for the other trade the Panthers made Monday -- and weren't they busy! -- I can't honestly say I know a lot about WR Louis Murphy, who once was Newton's teammate at Florida (the Panthers gave up a late pick to get him). But adding some depth at wide receiver seems like an OK idea since it didn't cost much. Murphy has never had an enormous year, but has had a couple of nice ones. I think Brandon LaFell still ends up starting at the No.2 receiver alongside Smith, but if I were David Gettis or Armanti Edwards, I'd be a little worried right now.
Ultimately on Monday, the draft picks were pretty much a wash. The Panthers basically gave up Otah for Murphy and I'm fine with that deal.