The writing was on the wall when the Panthers traded tackle Jeff Otah to the Jets in exchange for a conditional draft pick and then had to take him back when he failed two physicals, but it was made official on Thursday afternoon.
Carolina announced that they have terminates Otah’s contract, ending the Panthers tenure of the 19th overall pick of the 2008 Draft. No one ever doubted Otah’s ability to play right tackle at a high level when he was healthy, but the problem was that he was never able to stay healthy. He missed all of the 2010 season and played just four games last year because of back and knee issues.
His commitment to the game also came under question in Carolina, which made it impossible to think that the Panthers would hold onto him after the Jets trade fell through. All of those red flags would seem to make it hard for Otah to find a place to continue his career, but there will likely be interested parties around the league.
Run blocking ability like Otah flashed in his first two seasons doesn’t grow on trees, so there will likely be teams willing to give Otah a chance down the road. He’ll need to pass a physical to make that happen, though, and there’s no reason to believe he’s close to doing that at this point.
The Panthers signed cornerback Nate Ness, who has played eight games for three different teams over the last three seasons, to take Otah’s spot on the roster.