Eric Wright’s Future With Buccaneers Could Be In Jeopardy
By Max Luckan
When Greg Schiano was hired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he immediately made it clear that he had zero tolerance for poor effort on the field, but also that he didn’t tolerate many incidents outside of on-field play. Off the field incidents would be included in that category.
Schiano made an example of cornerback Tanard Jackson and wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who were both released for similar, yet slightly different, reasons. Jackson showed up to camp out of shape and failed a physical, and Briscoe’s effort probably wasn’t satisfactory. Both players appeared to the lack the commitment that Schiano expected.
This season, former Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib was suspended four games for the use of Adderall without a prescription, and was later traded to the New England Patriots. On Monday, the team announced that cornerback Eric Wright received the same suspension as Talib, and will miss the next four games. Wright also allegedly took Adderall without getting his use of the stimulant cleared by the NFL. It’s unlikely that Talib’s “punishment” was getting traded to a Super Bowl contender, but at the time, Schiano said he took internal action whatever that was. Naturally, the question becomes whether or not Wright will return to the Bucs next season, and surprisingly, or maybe not, Schiano said he expects him to return this season and next.
“I anticipate he will (return in December) and that would lead to the next logical thought that we’d get him back because he’s a good player,” Schiano said.
Yes, Wright is a good player, but he hasn’t played up to his potential this year due to a nagging Achilles injury that has repeatedly bothered him. Earlier in the year, Wright also dealt with a back injury that caused him to miss some time.
But now the news of the suspension comes, and as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, Wright’s suspension voided the guarantees in his contract, which means the Bucs could part ways with him after this season. Wright signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract in the offseason, but the $15 million in guaranteed money was only spread out across the first two years of his deal. Obviously, the Bucs will have some time to decide whether they want to bring Wright back or not, but the point is, Schiano and GM Mark Dominik will have to seriously ponder this question.
Wright released a statement on Monday, confirming his suspension and that he’d lost his appeal.
“It was announced today by the NFL that I am being suspended for four games,” Wright said in the statement. “This is a result of taking Adderall at the end of July for health issues I was experiencing. I am extremely disappointed that the suspension was upheld at my appeal.
“I apologize to the Glazer family, general manager Mark Dominik, coach Schiano, and the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, my teammates, our great fans, and my family who have stood by me through this entire process. I will continue to prepare myself and look forward to rejoining the team.”
The loss of Wright for the foreseeable future leaves the Bucs’ secondary with even more questions. Ronde Barber and E.J. Biggers are the only players that have decent experience starting in the secondary, and are joined by young, inexperienced players such as LeQuan Lewis, Leonard Johnson, and Danny Gorrer. However, the Bucs will get CB Anthony Gaitor, who has been out much of the season, back within the next few weeks, so that should help.
But for Wright, his job appears to be safe in the short-term, as Schiano said on Monday, but the Bucs will have to decide if he is worth having on the roster beyond this season.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.