Sizing up the Eric Wright trade is easy. Wright was reportedly arrested on July 12th in LA on a DUI charge. Last season, Wright was suspended for four games for Adderall use and this after signing a five year, $37.5 million deal to seal one side of the Bucs defense. He also had a DUI last offseason. Wright has been dogged by arrests and poor decisions since his collegiate days. Few will remember that Wright had to transfer from USC to UNLV after falling under suspicion for rape and drug use.
Wright was not much of a factor for the Bucs least season when he was on the field. He logged fewer snaps and was less effective than E.J. Biggers last year, so you had to figure if the front office was willing to let Biggers walk, that Wright’s days were numbered to begin with. Many fans will decry the lack of depth in the Bucs secondary which was nothing short of horrific last year, but here are the facts. Pro Football Focus rated Wright just the 66th CB overall, while his probable successor on the right side of the defense, Leonard Johnson, is ranked 38th. Most fans forget that Johnson, who went undrafted out of Iowa State, played nearly 600 snaps last year and he proved a more solid cover man and tackler than Wright, posting 41 tackles, 3 INTs, and a FF. Johnson’s emergence as a quality starter was a big reason that the Bucs felt comfortable moving on from Biggers, and his spot as a starter seems solidified as they gave Wright his walking papers.
Second round draft pick CB Johnathan Banks is also in the mix to start, but he probably will play in sub packages. To my mind probably the biggest beneficiary, besides Johnson is Anthony Gaitor, who Mark Dominik drafted in the 7th round in 2011. Gaitor has decent size – 5′ 10″ and 180 lbs, but he has the length and quickness to deal well with receivers in the slot, or larger targets over the middle. Gaitor logged 125 snaps last year and he needs to improve in coverage, as he gave up 2 TDs in that span. CB Danny Gorrer should also challenge for more playing time. In 2012 Gorrer had an INT and 11 tackles while logging just 187 snaps, so in his fourth season out of Texas A&M he will have to prove that the light has fully come on in order to push Banks or Gaitor aside.
It is doubtful that come December, Bucs’ fans will even remember the Eric Wright trade. Wright is too inconsistent and never developed into a shut-down corner. The front office realized that they overpaid for the talented, troubled corner and were smart enough to admit their mistake and part ways with him. The July 12 arrest was a catalyst, but it would not have surprised to see Wright on the street at the end of training camp if the young secondary players the Bucs have continue their upward progression. You might fault Mark Dominik for signing Wright in the first place, but credit him for cutting bait on Wright before things went from bad to worse. With the signing of Revis and Goldson, the RCB position need only be solid, not spectacular, for the Bucs to contend for the division this season.