Our long national nightmare is over. Wayne Hunter has been benched.
Rex Ryan announced this morning that Wayne Hunter will no longer be the starting right tackle and Austin Howard will start in his place — for now. The third year UDFA will start on Sunday vs. the Carolina Panthers, but he has not been named the starter for the regular season opener,
Hunter will now be moved back into the role of jumbo tackle/”sixth” man on the line and will also spend some playing time as a blocking tight end (another position the Jets did not address this off-season.. ho hum). Rex Ryan, in his usual hyperbole, told the media “We feel like we have the best backup tackle in football in Wayne Hunter.”
To be clear, Howard did not win the job. Hunter lost it.
At the moment, I am not convinced Howard is much of an upgrade at the position, but he is the only other option currently on the roster. Currently.
According to several sources, the Jets ARE looking for a right tackle, (Obviously). Unforunately, they are having a difficult time finding a team willing to give them one. The team may be forced to wait until other teams make cuts – the first cuts are due early next week – and hopefully one of them works out.
This brings me to my usual point about how this should never have been a crisis situation in the first place. While it’s true there were not many exceptional options in free agency, perhaps the team could have considered drafting an OT in April, and no, Robert T. Griffin doesn’t count.
For those hoping the Jets would “cut” Hunter, the Jets could release Hunter outright because he was guaranteed $2.45 million dollars this offseason, for reasons I have yet to determine. The team said they have no intentions of trading him, but I mean, who would want him (okay, sorry).