Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade CB Eric Wright to the San Francisco 49ers

Trade for Tampa Bay: When the Buccaneers signed Eric Wright to a 5-year, 37.5 million dollar contract this off-season, it looked like an absolutely ridiculous deal. Wright was one of the worst starting cornerbacks in the NFL the prior two seasons (just ask Cleveland and Detroit fans). There was a reason he was available for a 1-year deal the previous off-season before the 2011 season. In 2011 with the Lions, he ranked 105 of 109 eligible cornerbacks by ProFootballFocus last season, allowing a completion percentage of 62.5%, 7.0 YPA, 5 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions, all while ranking below average against the run. He was actually thrown on more than any cornerback in the league except Jabari Greer, being thrown on 120 times. It was a move that reeked of desperation for a team with no defensive back talent and plenty of cap space to burn.

In 2012, he graded out below average on 518 snaps before the best possible thing that could happen for the Buccaneers happened: Wright got suspended for 4 games for performance enhancing drugs. That suspension voided all the guaranteed money on Wright’s deal and gave them all the leverage in the off-season, as they restructured his contract down to 1 year and a non-guaranteed 1.5 million for the 2013 season (rather than just cutting him outright). However, he was arrested again for DUI earlier this month (he had a previous arrest last off-season) and that was apparently the last straw for the Buccaneers, who would have cut him outright (penalty free) and owed him no money, if they couldn’t find a trade partner. Given that, credit them for actually getting something for him, even if it is just a conditional late round pick.

They won’t really miss Wright. Obviously they have Darrelle Revis, but they also have Jonathan Banks and Leonard Johnson. Banks, a 2nd round rookie, will step into the starting lineup for Wright and while he’s unproven, he has much more upside. Johnson, meanwhile, could be a diamond in the rough as the 3rd cornerback. He went undrafted in 2012 after running a 4.71 40 at 5-10 196, but played well as a rookie, grading out above average on ProFootballFocus. He’s a good press cornerback and will probably move Banks to the slot in 3-cornerback sets.

Grade: A

Trade for San Francisco: This is a pretty low risk trade for the 49ers because they aren’t giving up much (late round picks have a hard time making their roster because of their depth) and because he doesn’t have any guaranteed money, but he’s still not a great talent and there’s a chance he could be facing another suspension after another off-season DUI (last year’s was a felony and this was a misdemeanor, so that’s progress). He’ll compete with Nnamdi Asomugha and incumbent Chris Culliver for the 3rd cornerback job, which gets a lot of action in San Francisco’s defense. Whoever wins that battle will line up opposite Tarell Brown with Carlos Rogers (who led the NFL in slot snaps played last season) on the slot. Wright is probably the favorite and could be the most talented of the bunch. He’s a good fit for the 49ers’ coverage scheme and their front 7 could make him look better than he is.

Grade: B




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