As the Buccaneers try to turn the page on a recent past where things were sufficiently loose that even “wild child” Aqib Talib acknowledged they were “a little loose,” the Bucs now have their first real dilemma.
Well, not their first one. They already had to make a decision on veteran tight end Kellen Winslow, for whom they gave up second-round and fifth-round picks in 2009 and to whom they paid $20 million over three seasons. Sensing he wasn’t going to fit with the new regime, the Bucs handed him to the Seahawks for a tube of Pringles and a pair of used shoes.
With cornerback Eric Wright, the stake are considerably higher. Less than four months after luring him from the Lions with a five-year, $38 million contract with $15.5 million guaranteed, Wright has been arrested for drunk driving.
In response, the Bucs have issued the same-old perfunctory statement: “We are aware of the arrest and are in the process of gathering information. We take such matters very seriously and will handle it appropriately.” If that’s all they do, the Bucs will be missing a chance to show they are different.
Different from how they’ve been. Different from other teams, like the one for which Wright most recently played.
Two years ago, the Bucs took a hard line with tight end Jerramy Stevens, cutting him after he was arrested for marijuana possession the night before a home game. But Stevens at that point was a marginal player. Wright represents the franchise’s new commitment to spending money. So he won’t definitely won’t be cut.
But he could be disciplined. Yeah, the CBA technically says that teams can’t take matters into their own hands. As a practical matter, they can. The question then becomes whether Wright would fight it.
Even if he does, a failed effort to punish a player for acting irresponsibly sends a far stronger message to the fan base than no effort at all.