Eric Wright returns to Tampa, contract restructure likely
The Bucs haven’t been aggressive in addressing their cornerback shortage via the free-agent market, but that doesn’t mean the position isn’t being dealt with.
Eric Wright, whose 2012 season was marred by injury and a league suspension, was at One Buc Place today (he lives in Los Angeles) and appears likely to agree to a contract restructure. That impending move would allow him to remain with the team -- an outcome that seemed unlikely not long ago.
Wright met with coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, perhaps giving them a chance to confront their differences.
Wright was one-third of the Bucs’ big-money free-agent splurge in 2012 (along with Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks), but so much of what has happened since suggested a breakup was coming.
From the suspension – for a violation of the performance-enhancing drug policy – to a legal challenge over the voiding of his contract’s guarantees, Wright and the Bucs have long been at odds. The team even sidelined him for the season finale in December, presumably to avoid any risk of injury which might have impacted the Bucs’ ability to release Wright later on.
But the team’s current lack of options at cornerback and Wright’s understanding that the free-agent market currently is tough for cornerbacks has created a situation where the two sides’ interests have aligned.
Wright is scheduled to earn $7.75 million in 2013, the second year of his five-year contract. But because of Wright’s unavailability during his four-game suspension, that sum no longer is guaranteed after the club voided his contract’s guarantees.
It’s unknown what the Bucs are willing to pay Wright, but it certainly will be less than his original 2013 salary.
Though it was widely assumed – based on rumblings from inside One Buc Place – that Tampa Bay would release Wright, the team still sees him as a player with legitimate talent. If he can stay healthy and steer clear of trouble, the Bucs hope they'll see some of the skills that led them to reward him with a $37 million contract in the first place.
The uncertainty surrounding the Darrelle Revis talks likely are a factor here, too. The Jets have sent conflicting messages about their willingness to trade their top player, despite the Bucs’ unabashed desire to acquire him.
Wright played 10 games in 2012, recording one interception and 37 tackles. But he was limited by an Achilles injury in three contests, unable to finish those games.