Eric Wright trade impacts depth, but Bucs' secondary far better than 2012
The Bucs hoped to never be here again, forced to consider the depth of their secondary. Last season’s horrific pass-defense results made avoiding a repeat of that situation the highest priority of this eventful offseason.
And yet, Eric Wright – penciled in as the starting right cornerback – is now gone, traded to the 49ers after his latest off-field setback, a DUI arrest last week. And just like that, the Bucs have concerns in the secondary again.
But there’s an important distinction between their current predicament and last year’s disaster. The truth is, the Bucs aren’t nearly as bad off in the secondary as they were last season.
As young as the Bucs are at cornerback, they’re not desperate. When you’re signing players off the street – Danny Gorrer and LeQuan Lewis, to name a couple – and immediately inserting them into prominent roles, that is the very definition of desperate. And that’s where the Bucs were last season.
After trading Aqib Talib and after learning of Wright’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson were the Bucs’ No. 1 and 2 cornerbacks, respectively. I’ll pause here to let that sentence sink in. . . See what I mean?
Today, even if Darrelle Revis fails to immediately play at a Hall-of-Fame level, he’s going to be plenty better than anything the Bucs had on the field at the end of 2012. The selection of Johnthan Banks in the second round from Mississippi State gives the Bucs a player who has more pure ability than any of the remaining veterans at the position.
And players like Johnson and Michael Adams, a seventh-year vet who has played in 74 career games, give Tampa Bay much better depth than last season. We should also not forget that All-Pro Dashon Goldson’s signing to play free safety should give the cornerbacks a little peace of mind, too.
Now, don’t think for a second I’m suggesting the Bucs are sitting pretty in the secondary. Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL. And there are always unforeseen issues, like those that always seemed to crop up with Wright.
But if you’re among those saying the Bucs’ secondary concerns are comparable to last season’s, you are being intellectually dishonest. If you don’t think the current secondary, even despite Wright being jettisoned, is worlds better than last year’s, analyzing football might not be your strong suit.
In closing, consider this: If the Bucs felt their depth issues in the secondary were at a critical level, do you think they would have traded their second-most accomplished cornerback, his latest arrest notwithstanding? Yes, trading Wright was a principled decision. But because of their improved secondary, it was a decision the Bucs felt they could afford to make.
And that should tell you plenty.