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December 31, 2012 @ 2:31 pm
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Wright Likely To Be Released Before Spring OTAs

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Barring any last minute change of heart, the Buccaneers will most likely release cornerback Eric Wright prior to the start of the upcoming offseason workouts. Wright is set to join the ranks of Tanard Jackson, Brian Price and Aqib Talib, players who failed to live up to the standards expected by head coach Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers' organization.
Eric Wright has most likely played his last down for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s ban on performance-enhancing substances the team is prepared to go in another direction, and most likely will release Wright before the start of any OTA (organized team activities) in the spring. The Buccaneers are set to begin their offseason program in mid-April.

The Buccaneers activated Wright to the roster last Saturday on the eve of the final regular season game at Atlanta, but declared him inactive for the actual game. The Buccaneers decided to not take the chance of Wright suffering a significant injury that would have left them on the hook for his salary next season, giving them the option to release him prior to next season.

The team will look to improve the cornerback position via free agency this spring, although sources say the potential crop of free agents isn’t very promising. The Buccaneers will also address the position in April’s NFL Draft.

Wright was signed last offseason as part of the “Big Three” along with wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks, as the Glazers opened their checkbooks and went on a free agency spending bonanza, unlike anytime previously seen in Buccaneers’ franchise history.

But even though Wright was being counted on to provide an upgrade in the Buccaneers secondary, as Pewter Report publisher Scott Reynolds wrote last month in the December digital magazine – Wright's signing didn't seem to fit. As Reynolds wrote, From the moment the Buccaneers inked him to a five-year, $37.5-million contract there have been questions about Wright. He wasn’t as good as wide receiver Vincent Jackson or left guard Carl Nicks, yet he was signed to an average of $7.5 million per season, which was a smidgen less than the two Pro Bowl free agent imports. Why did the Bucs overpay for a good – but not great – cornerback?

Shortly after Wright was signed, it was learned by Pewter Report that Wright was dealing with a serious undisclosed medical condition that affected his energy levels negatively. Wright missed a good deal of the offseason workouts and organized team activity days due to the undisclosed medical condition. The team was actually concerned they made a colossal mistake by signing him to such a huge deal during the summer, but Wright got the medicine he needed to treat his condition and was able to take part in training camp.

Character questions surfaced when Wright was arrested in California on a suspicion of DUI charge after being involved in a vehicle crash on July 1. Two weeks later, the charges were dropped, although Wright admitted to having some alcoholic drinks prior to the accident. Those questions had been raised a few years back when Wright was arrested in college in 2005 on a suspicion of rape charge at USC before transferring to UNLV.

Once in training camp, Wright injured his lower back and the back injury flared up a couple of times during the season in games. Then once the season began, nagging injuries kept Wright out part or all of handful of games in 2012.

Playing in eight games and parts of two others, Wright was able to record only 39 tackles, eight pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown at New York.

Wright had good production, but not much different than that of nickel cornerback E.J. Biggers, a former seventh-round pick who recorded 51 tackles and an interception, seven pass breakups, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one sack. Biggers made $1.45 million in 2012 – about $6.3 million less than Wright.

In late October it was revealed that Wright had tested positive for the banned substance Adderall and was facing a four-game suspension. Wright appealed the suspension, but lost, and began the four-game sentence the last week of November.

Wright lost nearly $1.9 million dollars in salary during the suspension and the Buccaneers failed to win a single game during that four-game stretch.

Part of the dilemma the Buccaneers face by releasing Wright is the cornerback position is easily the thinnest on the team, and poised to get even thinner. With Biggers and Brandon McDonald set to become free agents, the only roster cornerbacks that Tampa Bay can count on as Buccaneers are Anthony Gaitor, Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer and Myron Lewis.

Greg Schiano has a track record of actually making the depth and talent at a shaky position worse just to get rid of the wrong guys at One Buccaneer Place. Tampa Bay parted ways with Kellen Winslow, Tanard Jackson, Brian Price, Dezmon Briscoe and Aqib Talib, and now it appears Eric Wright will be the next in line to be dismissed after failing to live up to the responsibility of being “Buccaneer Men.”

– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 17:24

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  • avatar

    I know this may be A old letter but come on lets fis the problem then you all can agree or not where the player goes
  • avatar

    Actually, iabucfan, Wright wasn't the best option available; he wasn't even close to it. Everyone thought then that Cortland Finnegan was a better player and even a better value (at a higher price!), and everyone was right. Off the top of my head, Brandon Carr, Carlos Rogers, Tracy Porter, and Lardarius Webb were all FAs last offseason and were all considered better players at the time (and still are). We reached pretty far down the list and paid an awfully big price for our junk. I'm the first one to credit MD for his really, really good 2012 offseason, but the Wright signing was terrible then and is even more terrible now.
  • avatar

    While I respect Grimes for his production to this point in his career, he has "potential FA bust" written all over him. He seems very much like the kind of guy who will do well in the right system (i.e. ATL's defense) but could flounder elsewhere There are a handful of corners I would prefer for us to sign, especially when you consider the price Grimes is likely to come at. There is a reason ATL tagged him for this past season rather than singing him to a long term deal. There are better options out there for the system we run, and signing Grimes could end up being even worse than signing Wright has been. I like DRC a lot and have been dreaming of him in pewter & red since word leaked out of Philly that they are unlikely to sign him to the type of deal he wants. Also, people bash Nnamdi for his play in Philly, but the Eagles put him in the worst possible system for his skill set. I think that he might be a candidate for release, and if so, getting him at the price he would likely come at would be a steal. This defense is very similar to what he played in Oakland when he was a dominant player. There are others still that I would be thrilled to get in Tampa (although hopefully not at the needless premium that we paid for Wright not long ago).
  • avatar

    I don't disagree with you JonnyG about the mid-level free agents that are brought in to upgrade a roster like your namesake did in 2002. It's the mega-deal ones who collect a massive check then do little to nothing for the team in the win column. Yes, Mario Williams had his sacks but the team still floundered and its' coach got fired as a result. I simply say, be cautious and fans should temper their excitement when the see the headline that "Buffalo signs T.O." That's another one that didn't work out as planned.
  • avatar

    Pinkstob is ballin , i agree we need Grimes . As long as we have 2 different starters next season i'll be happy , whatever name they have . They can't be as bad as what we have.
  • avatar

    Growing up in St Pete, I've supported my Bucs since 1976. In all that time, I've seen some great teams and some awful teams... and (for the most part) this year's Tampa Bay Bucs is a team I can stand behind. There is great promise in this Defensive Unit... guys like Foster, David, McCoy, Clayborn, Price, and Barron are terrific to watch... but the Cornerback play was just sad. The image of Brandon McDonald trying to cover Martellus Bennett in the endzone typifies the play of the position across the board... looked like a Middle School Corner flailing about in a fain attempt at covering a Pro Receiver. Sad. That being said, I'd be tickled pink to have Eric Wright shown the door. We need players we can count on... good shipmates! A good shipmate realizes that even if you all don't pull together, you will all still sink together... and together the 2012 Bucs slipped past the waves. While I am concerned about the Corner position, our greatest asset in the Secondary is currently at Free Safety position. Will Ronde be back this year? His leadership isn't something that we'll find in the draft. Young players need good direction, which is a problem that we are still dealing with in the wake of making Derrick Brooks walk the proverbial plank.
  • avatar

    exnavydavid, That was one of the best post I've read. Thanks.
  • avatar

    Brent Grimes is extremely undersized and the contract he will demand will be worse than Wrights contract. I said last year they should have attempted to sign Finnegan tough corner from the Titans. That said Mike Jenkins needs to be acquired from Dallas and we can sign DRC for 3 years bc he has the size and speed to play in this scheme. I know the Bucs have glarring holes in the secondary but I wouldnt be opposed to the us selecting Teo in the 1st round. I think the Bucs should take a chance that this kid can eventually become the heartbeat of this defense. I wont waste anytime addressing Eric Wright bc he has been a problem from day one and if Talib can be released this is the biggest no brainer of the Bucs offseason. Why would you risk bringing this type of player back when he clearly doesnt fit the culture Schiano wants and he hasnt produced. Also somehow some way I still say the Bucs need to take a chance of Mathieu of LSU if Cooper obviously feels he can work with him. I said the same thing last year entering the draft about Vontaze Burfict then of Arizona St. He didnt play in the first 2 weeks of the season yet ended up leading Cincinnati in tackles this year. You take chances on talented players like this not these projects that dont even make the roster. Ex. Dunsmore, Tandy, Goode and Smith. Re-evaluate how we draft in the later rounds and we should be in better shape this year. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Stlbucsfan, B. Grimes is an extremely undersized CB who is a pro bowler unlike M. Jenkins and DRC, even though they've all spent their entire careers in the NFC. He was tall enough to cover Mike Williams in 2010 and intercept a pass aimed at Williams to claim a 4th quarter victory for the Falcons. BTW, Grimes is the same height as Barber. Grimes already knows how all the WR's in our division operate; he knows their moves. Plus, he would play hard against the Falcons for letting him walk. I see nothing but positives by signing Grimes.
  • avatar

    I dont disagree that Grimes would be an upgrade but I wouldnt be so eager to sign him to the contract hes going to demand. I think we would be able to sign Jenkins and DRC both for what it would cost us to acquire Grimes. If we were one corner away then im ok with it, but since we need a secondary overhaul I'd rather have our money spent on two young solid corners as opposed to one above average corner.
  • avatar

    macabee: Your posts always make sense. While I'm sure you are passionate about our team, your wisdom and common sense usually prevail in the end. Like you, I agree that the smart thing to do now regarding Wright is to do nothing. He can be released at any time it is convenient and most beneficial to the team. He'll be in California "out of sight and out of mind" to the rest of the team anyway. It's funny how each year fans want to sign free agents, including Eric Wright, to big $ contracts and don't care how much is paid because they just want the players. Dominik "overpaid" for Wright because that was the market price. Maybe it cost extra to include the escape clause being cited now. We all applauded the signings of Jackson, Nicks and Wright as they stood on the podium. Now some are criticizing Dominik for the move because the player took an Adderal. Should we be equally upset because Nicks got injured? Reality is that only Jackson was a major factor. Like the Draft, Free Agency is a risk that should be approached with caution and realistic expectations. One need only look to the Eagles and the "Dream Team" of FA signings. How'd that work out for Andy Reid? And don't forget the Bills signing Mario Williams. How'd that work out for the recently fired Chan Gailey?
  • avatar

    I respectfully disagree with your assesment of free agency, Free agency is a big reason we won the SB, Rice, McCardell, B Johnson, Jurevicious, Dilger, Oben, Christy and how did you not see how V Jax and Nicks were this yr that being said not every free agent is not a good sign like the Eagles as you point out but Mario Williams had 11 sacks this yr I'll take that for this team. My point is while free agency may not be the end all to all problems it can provide the results ex V-Jax, so yes the Bucs need to be active in free agency, I have seen DRC many times out here in AZ and he is a good not great corner but so was Brian Kelly so I thats a definate upgrade
  • avatar

    Well this is George Hicks who grew up in the tampa area and graduate at HB Plant in 1964.I've seen over the years that Tampa and other teams have made mistakes in the past.I'd say bring on the 2013 nfl draft and at least 2 cb for the picks.I had a fond memories of great players that came thru ther bucs gates and some that was bad apples. In today fast pace NFL years Each team is trying to find and inside edge. Also as a volunteer coach over 40 years you seen them come and go as quickly. Some of the players only want a chance but some when they get caught up in the fast track highlights they loosed track.GO BUCS in 2013.
  • avatar

    To me this is pretty simple. We need a LCB to replace Talib and now we have the opportunity and the funds to right the wrong called Wright who was our RCB (couldn’t resist the pun). The Eagles paid Namdhi Asomugha, supposedly a shutdown corner, 15mil a year and didn’t get anywhere near the results for that kind of money. Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, a UFA for that same team, is 26, 6-2, 185 and is paid 3.1mil. He is not a shutdown corner by any means, but he is a decent LCB that has 3 INTs this year and 16 over his 5 year career. Derek Cox is similar. He is a UFA at the Jags, 26, 6-1, 185 and is paid 1.4mil. He is a RCB and has 3 INTs this year and 12 over a 5 year career. Both of these guys are press cover corners, good height, and runs 4.4 40’s. They have been starters every year in the league and from everything I could find they have never been in any trouble. We do not need shutdown corners. We need solid, dependable, come to work every day Buccaneer Men that can stop the Nick Foles of the NFL from completing a 10 yard pass! Now I know we can’t make these guys come to the Bucs as other teams need secondary help too, but these are the types Dominik should be going after and there aren’t many out there. Grimes is 5-9 and makes over 10 mil a year. We can do better!
  • avatar

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out Mr Wright, sign DRC and draft 3 corners in draft end of story
  • avatar

    Tough deal but the upside is the experience LJ and Gaitor got. I think both make the team next season and that Biggers is resigned as well. The draft and FA will fill in two more spots at the position.
  • avatar

    He did act idiotically, but it is better he leave and the sooner the better. Let him go and try to find work elsewhere. And thank goodness that if it were going to happen, it happened before we wasted another year with him. It was a bad FA signing. Two out of three isn't bad, and we get a second chance with that money. We were lucky on this one, instead of having to eat all that cash.
  • avatar

    Dominik made his bed at the CB position by not drafting Claiborne and not re-signing Talib so he needs to lie in it. Don't throw good money after bad just because we nearly put the worst CB's on the field in NFL history. Cut Wright and bring in Brent Grimes.
  • avatar

    I reluctantly agree, the Bucs should keep their powder dry until FA and the draft is completed before releasing Wright. Wright can’t go anywhere – can’t speak to another team or anything. The Bucs hold all the aces because they hold the contract. After FA expires and all the good jobs are filled, the Bucs have leverage to release him outright depending on how they fared in FA and the draft or renegotiate his contract on their terms. This is smart, but personally, I would have cut him already!
  • avatar

    I can't understand Dominik making this deal? What was he thinking or should I say, what was he not thinking! As I said before, when Wright goes send Biggers with him.
  • avatar

    KINDERRT, What Dom saw was a lack of depth in the CB position. So, he used FA to address the issue. Wright was the best option available at the time. It's not Dom's fault it didn't work out. Put it on Wright. He had a great opportunity and blew by his own actions. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Some young players got playing time, and will be better for next year. The Bucs will pick up a free agent this off season, and will draft at least one corner high. So I don't view his release as a problem.
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