The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade sending Eric Wright to the San Francisco 49ers didn’t make sense on the surface to many Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans, as it seemed like a waste of a cheap player who could provide solid depth in the defensive backfield. And whether or not you believe the team was on the verge of cutting Wright, and simply traded him to maximize his value, one thing is certain.
The Buccaneers trust the young guns in the defensive backfield.
Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer, Anthony Gaitor, and newcomers Johnthan Banks and Deveron Carr are all slated to have bigger roles thanks to the departure of Wright, and it’s likely that some combination of these players have been performing well enough in offseason workouts that the Buccaneers found Wright to be surplus to requirements, and were prepared to let him go.
I have pointed out Johnson as a possible starter in the past, as I believe his experience last season has prepared him to be a solid NFL cornerback who might just have the familiarity with the system to trump the other competitors for the job left vacant by Wright. Go back and read that article again for reminders on why I favor Johnson in this situation.
Danny Gorrer came out of nowhere last season and provided valuable snaps for the Buccaneers in 2012, despite being remembered for a dropped interception. He didn’t allow a touchdown while covering a receiver, and made some good plays, especially against Julio Jones.
Anthony Gaitor lacks any traits to stand out from this group, but he’s been trusted by the coaches as someone who can play corner when called upon, and clearly the team did not see a drop-off from Wright to Gaitor, as Wright leaving likely saves Gaitor’s roster spot.
Banks and Carr are the wildcards, as these two tall, talented rookies will have the most upside, and may have already impressed enough to bump Wright off the roster. With rookies having just reported to camp this week, the Buccaneers may have seen enough from Banks and Carr to have faith that they could carry the burden of covering for Wright’s departure. Banks is a second round pick, and was highly touted heading into the draft, and is likely the odds-on favorite to win the starting job across from Darrelle Revis. Carr is an undrafted rookie who simply oozes potential, but is still a bit raw and needs some work. But Carr has the size and speed to be a dynamic player at the cornerback position, and could be the definition of a “diamond in the rough.”
The Buccaneers are putting faith in a group of somewhat unproven players, but they do so at the expense of an unreliable veteran who seemed to not fit the team’s mindset and philosophy. Wright has proven more as an NFL player than any of the young players competing to fill his now vacant shoes, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the doubts he had placed in the minds of the Bucs’ front office. And with plenty of young, talented players vying for a limited number of roster spots, the team decided to ramp up the competition with a move before camp even truly got started.