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Jets swap Wayne Hunter for Rams' failed RT, Jason Smith

Wayne Hunter #78 of the New York Jets

Wayne Hunter #78 of the New York Jets in action against the San Diego Chargers. (Oct. 23, 2011) Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Four days after losing his starting job, Wayne Hunter lost his spot on the Jets' roster.

The beleaguered right tackle-turned-jumbo tight end was dealt to the St. Louis Rams Monday for fellow right tackle Jason Smith, Hunter's agent confirmed. Smith was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft.

It was the final ego blow for Hunter, who was embarrassed by Jason Pierre-Paul in the Jets' second preseason game and subsequently was benched in favor of backup Austin Howard on Thursday. And although Hunter -- hampered by back tightness -- wasn't surprised at Rex Ryan's decision, he admitted last week that "it's a blow to the pride because you know you're a better player than that."

Hunter will be reunited with former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who is the new Rams coordinator.

A Jets spokesman told reporters last week that the team would not trade Hunter and his guaranteed $2.45-million contract this season. But general manager Mike Tannenbaum apparently changed his mind during the past few days.

According to NFLPA records, Smith is due a guaranteed $4 million this season.

It remains to be seen whether the Jets envision Smith as their right tackle of the future, but it's expected he'll begin as Howard's backup. Like Hunter, Smith, 26, lost his starting job.

Despite comments to the contrary, the Jets never were happy with Hunter at right tackle.

During the offseason and preseason, the Jets acquired and released three right tackles: Ray Willis, Stephon Heyer and Jeff Otah, whose contract was voided after a failed physical.

Howard appeared to have the starting job locked up after an impressive showing Sunday night, in which he allowed zero sacks despite several one-on-one matchups.

New York Sports