The Buccaneers bolstered their secondary with the signing of cornerback Eric Wright. The former Browns and Lions cornerback had four interceptions in Detroit last year and has 14 picks in his five-year NFL career.
Just hours after signing free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson, the Buccaneers continue to add veterans to their team, signing cornerback Eric Wright to a five-year deal.
The Buccaneers could have made a run for Wright in free agency last year, which was flush with cornerbacks, but opted to stick with the cornerbacks that were on the roster. Yet Wright only signed a one-year deal in Detroit and had four interceptions and a forced fumble in 2011. Those four picks matched his career high in Cleveland, where he played the first four years of his NFL career, during the 2009 season.
Wright, who is 26, still has plenty of potential and upside. The 5-foot-10, 196-pound Wright has 13 career interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Arguably no position on the Buccaneers is currently as thin in depth and talent as the current situation at cornerback. Starter Aqib Talib is entering a contract year and has seen his last two seasons end on injured reserve. Complicating matters for the Buccaneers and forcing the team to look towards free agency is the fact that Talib has a grand jury hearing on March 26 for an aggravated assault with a firearm charge that could send him to prison if found guilty.
Talib has a checkered past with the team and the Bucs needed some free agent insurance in case he misses part of the season due to a league suspension for his arrest, or the entire season if he is convicted of his crime.
Fifteen-year veteran Ronde Barber is an unrestricted free agent after signing a one-year deal in 2011 and leading the team with three interceptions. The Bucs have expressed interest in re-signing Barber, but the 36-year old franchise leader in interceptions has yet to decide whether he wants to play one more season or retire.
Elbert Mack, who had two interceptions in 2011, is an unrestricted free agent is expected to sign elsewhere.
The addition of Wright also helps the team’s depth because as of right now, the other rostered cornerbacks are E.J. Biggers, Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor.
Lewis, a former third-round pick in 2010, has been a bust. Blessed with plenty of natural attributes, Lewis has been unable to translate them to any sort of semblance of a productive or starting-caliber NFL cornerback and he has been beset with injuries.
Biggers was a liability at times last season in coverage, and one of the poorest tacklers on the team. Depite playing in all 16 games over the past two seasons, Biggers notched just two interceptions over that span and has sub-par ball skills.
Gaitor remains an unknown as he played sparingly in 2011, and lacks ideal size to match up with bigger receivers in the NFL.
To be successful in the pass-happy NFC South division with quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, the Buccaneers will need to make rebuilding the secondary one of their top priorities. The good news is that Wright’s signing is a step in the right direction.
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