Offensive tackle Jeff Otah ended each of the past three seasons on injured reserve with the Carolina Panthers.
On Monday, Otah ended up on another team.
The Panthers traded talented, but oft-injured Otah to the New York Jets, getting a conditional, seventh-round pick for a player they drafted in the first round in 2008.
The Otah trade was part of what amounted to a three-team deal involving the Panthers, who earlier Monday acquired ex-Oakland receiver Louis Murphy in exchange for a conditional, seventh-round pick next year, according to reports.
One Jets official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, called the Otah deal a steal. The Jets were looking for someone to compete with Wayne Hunter, who allowed 8 1/2 sacks and had a team-high 11 penalties in 2011 to become a target of fan criticism.
Otah, 26, was not a fan favorite in Charlotte after missing 31 of his final 35 games because of a left knee injury. Otah, set to make $1.1 million this year with a cap figure of $2.7 million, will get a clean slate in New York during a contract year.
Its hard because Jeffs an extremely talented player. I think this is going to be a fresh start for him and hes going to do very well, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. You dont find players hes a very talented offensive tackle. Hes had problems with injuries the last two years. We have some young tackles that we think can be good and compete and help us and make up pretty good depth at the spot.
Byron Bell, who started 12 games last year as an undrafted rookie, will compete with Garry Williams and Bruce Campbell at right tackle. The Panthers acquired Campbell from the Raiders this offseason in a deal that sent running back Mike Goodson to Oakland.
Many have questioned whether Otah, who first was injured near the end of the 2009 season, worked hard enough during the training room to get back on the field. After Otah played four games last fall, the Panthers shut him down in the hopes he would be 100 percent this season.
But Otah developed swelling on the knee during organized team activities. He visited well-known sports orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, who told Otah the knee was sound structurally.
But the Panthers had seen enough.
When a players dealing with injuries, I think nobody knows what the injurys like except for that player, Hurney said. Injuries happen in this league and hes definitely had injuries the last two years. But I think hes motivated this year. I do think a fresh start will help Jeff.
Like Otah, Murphy also is in the final year of his contract.
Murphy, who will make $1.26 million, was a fourth-round pick in 2009 out of Florida, where he played briefly with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Murphy, who is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds with good speed, led Oakland receivers with a combined 75 catches his first two seasons.
But he missed the first five games last season with a groin injury and finished with 15 receptions in 11 games. He started just one game in 2011 and reportedly wanted out of Oakland after dropping on the depth chart.
The Panthers have a pair of third-year receivers in Brandon LaFell and David Gettis to complement top wideout Steve Smith, although Gettis is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him last season.
Hurney said the acquisition of Murphy was a move to add depth and not necessarily a sign Gettis is less than 100 percent.
Any time a players coming off an ACL, you just have to see how it comes along. But certainly David works as hard as anybody on his rehab, Hurney said. This was more a chance to get a player that will come in and add to the competition there. Hes a big receiver who we liked when he came out of Florida. His first two years with the Raiders were productive. Hes got some big-play ability and can run.
NFL Network analyst Eric Davis, a former Panthers cornerback, said Murphy can help the Panthers if he plays like he did two years ago.
The 2010 version ran very good routes, (had) good separation, good hands, (is) strong, can run after the catch, Davis said. He needs to be durable. He needs to stay healthy. If he can do those things, he can help. A veteran guy who understands how to play the game. Understands defenses and how to sit down in zones and how not to get himself killed.