[QUOTE]The Jets' uncharacteristically inconsistent offensive line play last season has prompted them to look for an upgrade.
[B]The Daily News has learned that Gang Green has explored trading right tackle Wayne Hunter this offseason. The Jets were engaged in trade discussions involving Hunter with at least one NFC team, but a deal couldn’t be struck, according to sources.[/B]
Although the Jets still appear amenable to trading Hunter, the lack of depth along the offensive line may ultimately prevent them from dealing him. There is also a belief in the organization that Hunter, who will be entering his ninth season, could improve under offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s new blocking schemes.
“We expect Wayne back,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum told WFAN radio last week. “We expect him to be our starter.”
Hunter, a career backup, struggled in his first season as a full-time starter after taking over for the retired Damien Woody. According to Pro Football Focus, Hunter allowed the third-most sacks (11) and committed the fourth-most penalties (11) by a tackle last season. He also allowed the most quarterback hits (11) among tackles.
However, Hunter wasn’t the lone culprit in pass protection. The offensive line wasn’t nearly as stout as it had been the previous two seasons when it established itself as one of the best units in the league. Mark Sanchez was the fifth-most sacked quarterback in the league last season (39).
“We need more consistent line play,” Tannenbaum said. “There’s no question about that. All of our players need to play more consistently up front. We expect (Hunter) to play better this year.”
Hunter, 30, signed a four-year, $12.9 million contract last offseason. His $2.45 million base salary for 2012 became guaranteed last month.