November 25, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson (29) celebrates as an Atlanta Falcons field goal attempt is no good during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Wright Trade Means Tampa Bay Buccaneers Trust The Young Guns In The No Fly Zone

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.

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  • RussMillerWY

    Wright was doomed from the moment he was suspended last season because that meant he wasn’t a Buccaneer man. Banks and Johnson are obviously the types of personalities that Schiano covets, so they are the new starter and nickel back, respectively. Nobody keeps a Thorpe-winning high draft pick on the bench so last year’s undrafted rookie can get some more onfield experience. It makes them look like they made a bad pick and are trying to conceal it from the owners. The dime back is not exactly a critical position, as there are so many good pass catching tight ends and formations that depend on 3rd down backs in the division that we’re unlikely to see a fourth wide receiver appear very often. Gaitor seems to have the most experience, the fewest onfield embarrassments, and his neighbors haven’t complained to the police about any of his pets, recycling sorting violations, or unabashedly nude Greek lawn ornaments yet, so it should be him. Carr can have a lot of potential and still get no higher than special teams, inactive status on gameday, or the practice squad. Gorrer is getting old for a guy likely to be buried on the depth chart and therefore has no practice squad eligibility and will likely get cut. Myron Lewis (did I finally get his name right?) could stick around because he’s big and strong for a CB, still on a stingy rookie contract, and can at least make tackles on kickoff and punt returns. Everyone else is cannon fodder until they do something in a preseason game that gets them noticed.

    • LeoTPP

      You usually “answer all your own questions” but I do enjoy your thoughts. I can always count on you for some wit and some passion!

      • RussMillerWY

        Hahaha, thanks! Sorry to be so negative, but Buccaneers personnel decisions are becoming so PREDICTABLE, as control seems to be shifting from Dominik to Schiano. Another columnist on some other website pointed out that Vincent Jackson has a history of DUIs, and Dominik hired him the same year as Wright’s and Schiano’s hirings. Perhaps Talib’s and Wright’s PED suspensions have led them to a zero tolerance policy on any kind of league issue that could someday result in a suspension. That’s going to continue to diminish the caliber of the players they can find and keep. Can you imagine if everyone in the country would lose their job if they were arrested on suspicion of a misdemeanor, used a legal substance in a way that turned out to be illegal, fired a warning shot that someone claimed was a murder attempt, or said something unpopular that offended a community that is lying in wait eagerly hoping that someone will dare to offend them? The zero tolerance world is a ferocious place run by the Queen of Hearts and the mad hatters, where everyone walks on egg shells and no one is ever safe.

        I do think Banks will turn out to be a better corner than Wright, in any case, although an experienced Wright may have been a better slot corner than Johnson. The worst thing is that, once again, their CB depth chart will be loaded up with rookies and journeymen who have yet to prove themselves. Looking less like a playoff year, too, especially when factoring in the possibility of new injuries and suspensions.