We noted at the end of the season that the Buccaneers plan to release cornerback Eric Wright, who’s due a base salary of $7.75 million this season. That’s still the case, but it may not happen soon.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Wright initially expected to be released as early as this week, which would have given him a head start on free agency. But now the Bucs aren’t planning to release him this week, or even this month.
When Wright signed with the Bucs last year, that $7.75 million salary for 2013 was guaranteed. But when Wright was suspended four games last season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, it allowed the Bucs to cut him at any time before the start of the 2013 regular season without paying him anything. And that’s what the Bucs plan to do — but only after taking their time about seeing what they can do at the cornerback position in free agency and the draft.
It’s possible that the Bucs will try to squeeze Wright into taking a reduced salary in lieu of getting cut, although Wright apparently isn’t open to that at this point. Unfortunately for Wright, if he balks, the Bucs can wait as long as they like to cut him, and by the time they finally get around to it, his value may have gone down because teams that might have otherwise been interested in his services would have looked elsewhere to shore up the cornerback position.
The biggest risk the Bucs have is that Wright could get injured during offseason workouts. If Wright blows out his knee while working out at the team facility, the Bucs would be forced to put him on injured reserve and pay him that entire $7.75 million salary. So it’s still more likely than not that Wright will get cut before offseason workouts begin in April.
But even if he gets cut in April, Wright will have missed out on the initial frenzy of free agency. The same frenzy he was part of last year, when he got a “five-year, $37.5 million contract” that turned out to be a whole lot shorter and a whole lot less lucrative than that.