After just one season in Tampa, cornerback Eric Wright has been traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional draft pick in 2014.
The news came out mid-Friday, just before fans learned Wright was arrested on July 12th for a misdemeanor DUI charge in Los Angeles.
Wright had his contract restructured on April 9th because of troubles he faced last season, both legally and inside the league. He was arrested for a felony DUI charge on July 2, 2012 and was suspended four games last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Wright had his five-year $38 million dollar deal restructured to a one-year $1.5 million dollar deal after his slip-ups in 2012, but the front office had us out to believe they restructured his deal because Wright was remorseful, willing to admit wrong-doings and improve from his mistakes; that was not the case.
After the deal had been agreed upon, sources indicated the Bucs had been talking to the 49ers for some time involving a trade for Wright; they would have just cut him after his most recent arrest had the 49ers not shown interest.
So, what does this mean for the Bucs secondary, a unit that almost broke a record last season for being the worst pass defense in NFL history? It means that Darrelle Revis better be ready. According to reports from NFL Network, the Bucs fully intend for Revis to be on the field Day 1 of training camp. This is good news, but Wright wasn’t going to take Revis’ spot. Wright’s spot was intended to be opposite Revis, a spot that will now be filled by rookie CB Johnthan Banks.
As a second round pick, Banks was going to get a good amount of game-time experience this year, even with Wright on the team. With Wright’s departure, Banks now moves into a full-time starting role.
Banks moving to the No. 2 CB spot has its positives and negatives:
Banks was a four-year starter at Mississippi State, recording at least three interceptions each season through all four years. At 6’2″ 185lbs, Banks has the body to be a physical cornerback that is effective in the bump-coverage scheme, as well as show off his in-air ball skills.
Teams will look at the Bucs secondary as follows: The best CB in professional football (in theory) on one side, and a rookie on the other. If Revis is anywhere between 80-100 percent back to the way we’re used to seeing him, teams will exploit Banks’ inexperience all season long. There’s throwing a player to the wolves and there’s putting a massive target on his back — Banks will experience both. Though Schiano is confident in Banks’ abilities, both in learning and in skill, he will still need time to be consistent in a starting role.
However, what most fans will be worried about is not in what comes out of Tampa’s first two CBs; it’s the depth after that. The team was already very thin at the cornerback position; Banks at the No. 3 would have given the Bucs some much needed relief. With Wright out the door, the rest of the cornerbacks currently on the roster are: Leonard Johnson, Myron Lewis, Anthony Gaitor, Deveron Carr, Danny Gorrer and Rashaan Melvin — none of which have more than four years experience. Johnson will most likely assume the No. 3 spot at the nickel CB since he was given some good playing time last season; he played well but also showed his learning curve. As for the others, they haven’t given fans much reason to trust them as key substitutes. In a division with the Falcons, Saints and Panthers — more importantly Ryan, Brees and Newton — Tampa’s secondary must gain confidence and see results out of some unlikely heroes.