Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
This spring there have been plenty of reports, articles, and predictions that had Eric Wright on his way out of town, clearing his 7.75 million dollar salary from the Buccaneers’ books. The troubled corner was overpaid last offseason, and brought in to try and bring stability to the cornerback position. But his arrival ushered in the opposite, as the Tampa Bay defensive backfield was in flux all year thanks to Wright’s injury problems and league-enforced suspension. The same sort of frustration surrounded Aqib Talib, and the Buccaneers were very quick to usher Talib out the door with a midseason trade. So when it was learned that Eric Wright’s guaranteed money had been voided from his contract, it seemed obvious that the Buccaneers would release him and rid themselves of the headache from the previous season, and undo the mistake of overpaying for Wright’s lack of production.
But as the offseason wore on, and Wright remained a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster, it seemed more and more evident that Wright could be a part of the Bucs’ future. The team and player took a step towards a more amicable future today, when Wright arrived at One Buc Place to meet with Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Stephen Holder reported. The report states that Wright was there to clear the air over his status with the team, and discuss a possible restructuring of his now gutted of guaranteed money contract.
If the Buccaneers are able to re-work Wright’s deal in such a way that it is more team-friendly than the deals given to other free agent corners this offseason, and Wright is willing to keep his mind focused on football, this could be as good as adding a free agent corner for the Buccaneers. Eric Wright did not have a good year when he did play in 2012, and has been inconsistent since his career began. But the same could be said of almost any corner in this free agent class, and Wright comes with the added bonus of knowing the system and being familiar with the expectations in Tampa.
Mark Dominik has made plenty of smart deals this offseason, and has a chance to add yet another smart deal by inking a new, team-friendly contract for Eric Wright. The stability gained by having Wright back, with the continued possibility of adding Darrelle Revis or a first round rookie, means the Buccaneers’ defensive backfield looks more like an NFL defensive backfield heading into 2013.
But if Wright is unwilling to take a paycut, he’ll likely hit the open market in a very unfriendly free agent summer.
So it’s up to Eric to determine whether or not he’ll be back in Tampa next year. Either way, the Buccaneers will be left with options, as there are trades, draft picks, and free agents still available to bolster their struggling defensive backfield. If Wright willingly chooses to cut a new deal with the Buccaneers, it will have to come with a renewed focus on being a Buccaneer Man. And that bodes well for the Bucs in 2013. And if he doesn’t agree to a new deal, the Bucs got a get-out-of-jail free card for a terrible free agent contract and can move on.