With camps opening up for all NFL teams this week, two teams acquired two interesting chips in trades on Monday. The Carolina Panthers acquired receiver Louis Murphy from the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Jets got offensive lineman Jeff Otah from the Panthers. Both players were traded for undisclosed conditional draft picks.
As first reported by Yahoo!'s Jason Cole, the Murphy trade gives Cam Newton a possible second target behind Steve Smith. Murphy was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Florida and put up some good stats in his first two years, but was made more redundant in 2011 by the ascent of speedsters Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. After grabbing 75 passes for 1,130 yards and six touchdowns total in 2009 and 2010, Murphy caught just 15 passes for 241 yards and no scores last year. Murphy is a bigger receiver (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) with decent speed and low catch rates cycling through a series of inconsistent quarterbacks.
Last year, Legedu Naanee was the Panthers' second-most prolific receiver with 44 catches for 467 yards and one touchdown, and Naanee is now with the Miami Dolphins. Just as Newton helped resuscitate Smith's career in 2011, there could be a big bounceback season in 2012 for Murphy.
As for Otah, the former first-round pick in 2008 would seem to fit well with the Jets' power-running attack; when healthy, Otah is a true earth-mover with a great feel for the kind of offense New York will run this season, especially if Tim Tebow wrests the starting quarterback job away from Mark Sanchez.
Otah struggled with various injuries in 2011, starting just four games at right tackle for an offense that improved dramatically with Newton at the helm. He missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury. If healthy, Otah will battle the much-maligned Wayne Hunter for that same spot.
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