Here's why the Bucs might opt not to play Eric Wright
Before we begin, here’s a disclaimer: This is only speculation. Reasonable speculation, that is.
We told you earlier today about coach Greg Schiano’s cryptic answers regarding cornerback Eric Wright and whether he’d play in Sunday’s season finale now that he’s served his four-game NFL suspension. All week long, Schiano has said he’d do whatever was best for the team, whatever that means.
Today, he remained noncommittal on whether Wright would play, although Wright has practiced all week and appears healthy.
Now, here’s something else to consider. You probably recall reading a few weeks ago that Wright’s suspension allows the Bucs to void the guarantees in his contract, namely the $7.75 million salary he is due to earn in 2013. That would allow the Bucs to release him after this season and owe him nothing.
If the Bucs are even remotely considering this, they’d be very wary of Wright sustaining an injury on Sunday.
Language in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement includes an enhanced injury-protection benefit that guarantees a player a maximum of $1.5 million in future earnings if a contract was in place at the time of the injury and that injury prevents him from playing at the start of the following season.
Under the old CBA, players could recoup only a maximum of $300,000 under this benefit. But now, players can recover up to $1 million for the season immediately following the injury and up to $500,000 for the second season following the injury, provided the player was under contract for those seasons at the time of his injury. Wright currently is signed through 2016.
Is any of this being discussed in the corner offices at One Buc Place? That’s hard to know. And it's not a slam dunk that the Bucs part ways with Wright because, well, they can barely round up enough cornerbacks to play as it is.
But don’t think for a second the Tampa Bay brass isn’t fully aware of this and considering all possibilities.