SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The Jeff Otah era is over in Carolina.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney announced the team had terminated the contract of the offensive tackle, a former first-round draft pick, after he failed a physical.
“Anytime you let go of a player as talented as Jeff is, it’s a hard decision,” Hurney said Thursday. “In talking to him and going through the last couple of days, he just doesn’t feel like he’s gotten over the injuries of the past two seasons. And he doesn’t know when he’ll be ready. So we just thought it was a decision that was best for both sides to move forward.”
Otah’s agent, Jonathan Feinsod, said his client is “one thousand percent” committed to playing again this season and has no plans to retire.
Feinsod said Otah plans to attend LeCharles Bentley’s Offensive Line Academy in Cleveland to continue to strengthen this knee and work on his conditioning so he can continue playing.
“He’s not currently ready to play today, but he will be there in the future,” Feinsod said.
Carolina dealt Otah to the New York Jets on July 23 for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2013, but the trade was rescinded after Otah failed a physical, and he reverted back to the Panthers roster.
The Panthers selected the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Otah with the 19th pick in the 2008 NFL draft and he played well his first two seasons with the team. However, Otah developed knee problems beginning in 2009 and had surgery on his meniscus. He’s missed 31 of the last 35 games due to injury, finishing the last three seasons on injured reserve.
Hurney said the Panthers feel like they have good depth at right tackle, the position Otah once manned.
Byron Bell, who started 12 games last year, is expected to start at right tackle but will be pushed by Garry Williams and Bruce Campbell.
“We feel like we’ve got some good young players there and our depth is pretty good there,” Hurney said. “That plays into the decision.”
The Panthers also announced the signed cornerback Nate Ness. The 6-foot, 193-pound Ness entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie with Cleveland in 2009 and has spent time with Miami, Seattle, the New York Giants and St. Louis.
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