Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Wright grateful for second chance

TAMPA — Cornerback Eric Wright acknowledged that he wasn't sure he'd be back with the Bucs this season.

That uncertainty would have seemed implausible a year ago, when Wright was courted as a free agent, brought in on a private jet and signed to a five-year, $37.5 million deal.

But Wright's tumultuous first season in Tampa Bay had its share of troubles, from a nagging Achilles injury to a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, leading to a legal challenge over the voiding of his contract's guarantees.

"Of course there was concern," Wright said. "A lot of concern."

Wright, 27, is grateful for another shot. He agreed to take a huge pay cut in restructuring to a non-guaranteed one-year, $1.5 million deal.

"I feel like I'm a pretty exceptional player, and the world has yet to see that in its entirety," Wright said. "I have to just go out there and remain consistent and do whatever I can to help this team win."

Though Wright remains on the roster, and has looked good in offseason practices, he'll have to earn his starting spot, coach Greg Schiano said. The Bucs secondary went through a monster makeover this offseason, with the acquisitions of Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis and free safety Dashon Goldson and the retirement of Ronde Barber.

Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks was drafted in the second round and could vie for the spot opposite Revis, with former Largo High star Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer leaning on their experience last year while Wright was hurt.

"There's some guys that finished the year that they think it's their position, and Eric thinks it's his position, so we'll see," Schiano said. "I'm not sure exactly how everything will turn out, nor do I care. I know I like the guys that are right now competing. That's the most important thing, and we'll let it all play out."

Wright, who has 14 career interceptions over six seasons with three teams, is confident.

"As long as I'm healthy and out here, there's no way that I'm not a contributor on this team," Wright said. "That's the type of competitor I am. That's how I am in general. I've been playing this game for six years, and I've been a starter for six years, and that says something about the person I am, the player I am, and where my mind-set is at all times. I don't see it being any different."

There's no question Wright has talent. The San Francisco native looked up to Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, and Wright made his share of prime-time moves in a highlight-reel 60-yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 2 against the Giants last year.

"That should have been the play of the year," Wright said.

But Wright wound up playing just 10 games for the Bucs, partly because of an Achilles injury, as well as the suspension, which he said stemmed from a one-time use of Adderall. The team sidelined him for the season finale in December, presumably to avoid any risk of injury that might have impacted the Bucs' ability to release him later.

Wright filed a grievance against the Bucs — contending they didn't have the right to void his guaranteed 2013 base salary of $7.75 million — but an arbitrator ruled in March in favor of the team. Wright, however, was encouraged after meeting with Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik in April that he was in their plans.

"This is definitely a place that I'm happy to be," Wright said. "And dealing with coach and the Glazers and Mark Dominik, it's obviously a vote of confidence for them to give me an opportunity to stay here, and continue my playing career.

"So I'm grateful for that."

tampa hire: The Bucs hired Nelson Luis, a Tampa Jesuit and USF graduate, as director of communications. Luis held a similar position for the past 12 years with the NBA's Rockets. His career began in the Bucs communications department from 1995-99.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

 
Comments
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18
Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

As next week's NFL draft nears, Bucs fans might want to learn a little more about a potential target at No. 7: Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.The 6-foot-4, 347-pound monster moves very well for someone his size and could be an intriguing option...
Published: 04/17/18
DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

TAMPA — DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were finally on the same page.For the first day of the offseason workout program, anyway.Jackson, 31, is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 10-year career with 50 catches for only 668 yards and ...
Published: 04/16/18
Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

TAMPA — Jameis Winston was excited to be back with his teammates at One Buc Place Monday beginning the first phase of  the off-season workout program."It means everything, because it's back to football," Winston said. "It's back to that te...
Published: 04/16/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Ali Marpet is on the move again, but says not to worry about his transition to left guard — his fourth offensive line position in five years — for the 2018 season."Moving from right to left is less of a transition from guard to center," M...
Published: 04/16/18
Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Add offensive tackle to the positions where the Bucs have a question mark, less than two weeks before the NFL draft.Starting right tackle Demar Dotson, who missed the final five games of last season with a knee injury, had surgery this past week to r...
Published: 04/15/18
How Penn State RB Saquon Barkley would ignite the Bucs offense … if only they could draft him

How Penn State RB Saquon Barkley would ignite the Bucs offense … if only they could draft him

Saquon BarkleyPosition: Running backCollege: Penn StateHeight/weight: 6-3, 233Draft projection: First roundWhy he would make sense for the Bucs: Barkley is arguably the best overall player in the draft. Despite his exceptional size, he ran a 4.41 in ...
Published: 04/14/18
Bucs’ Mike Evans donates $10,000 to childhood friend’s recovery

Bucs’ Mike Evans donates $10,000 to childhood friend’s recovery

As a Texas man fights for his life after an accidental shooting on Easter Sunday, Bucs receiver Mike Evans has stepped up to help his childhood friend, donating $10,000 to a GoFundMe account for Devyn Holmes.Holmes and two other people were in a park...
Published: 04/14/18
Why the Bucs’ big improvement could come from players already on the roster

Why the Bucs’ big improvement could come from players already on the roster

TAMPA —The NFL draft still is a few weeks away, and every team is hoping to harvest players who can be the difference on a winner.But the biggest improvement may come from players entering their second or third seasons. Rookies are great, but p...
Published: 04/14/18