Banned four games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, Wright will begin serving his suspension when the Buccaneers travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in Week 13.
Head coach Greg Schiano confirmed the start of the suspension Monday, according to the Buccaneers official Twitter account.
Coach Schiano says CB Eric Wright will be suspended by the league for the next four games.— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) November 26, 2012
However, there is more to this story. ESPN's Adam Schefter dug up what could be used as an avenue for the Buccaneers to get out of all the money owed to Wright next season. Thanks to his suspension, the guaranteed money in Wright's deal for 2013 has been eliminated.
By being suspended four games this season, the guaranteed money in Bucs CB Eric Wright’s contract for next season is now null and void.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 27, 2012
Wright signed a five-year, $38 million deal this past summer, which included fully guaranteed base salaries in each of the first two seasons.
Wright will already lose nearly $1.8 million for the four-game suspension this season, but the Bucs now have no ties to the $7.75 million he would have otherwise been guaranteed next season. Releasing him after the season gets the Bucs off the hook for a lot of money.
After the 2013 season, Wright is owed $7.25 million in both 2014 and 2015 and $7.5 million in 2016 before he's scheduled to become a free agent in 2017. Those salaries are not guaranteed.
The Bucs might as well save the cap room and cash by ducking out of Wright's monster deal while they have the option to.
While Wright has arguably been the team's top cornerback in 2012, that alone isn't exactly saying much. Tampa Bay is dead last in pass defense in the NFL, and Wright has just one interception and eight passes defensed.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wright has allowed 35 catches for 510 yards and two touchdowns this season. His passer rating allowed of 96.6 ranks in the lower half of NFL cornerbacks. More of a problem than solution, Wright is grossly overpaid for the play he's delivered in 2012.
With a four-week timetable, Wright would be eligible to return for Tampa Bay's season finale against the Falcons. At 6-5, the Buccaneers are also still alive for a potential playoff spot in the NFC.
But given some of his past troubles, the fact that he is vastly overpaid and the clause in his contract allowing the Bucs an out, Wright should be on his way out in Tampa Bay after this season.
Here's a quick rundown of his past transgressions:
- This past July, Wright was arrested for felony DUI after an accident in Los Angeles. According to Pro Football Talk, those charges were dropped.
- In college, Wright transferred from USC to UNLV amidst several legal problems. According to CBS Sports, Wright allegedly raped a young woman and police later found ecstasy in his shared apartment. Those chargers were also dropped.
- Now, the suspension for a performance-enhancing drug.
Of course, Wright could have legally taken Adderrall, the drug he claims spawned the positive test. But the fact that he didn't go through the right avenues with the substance is just another question mark on his already questionable record.
The Bucs obviously need help at the cornerback position, but Wright doesn't look like a part of the solution for 2013 or beyond. Tampa Bay should cut ties after 2012 and move on.