Eric Wright’s Forgettable Season is Finished

Eric Wright was supposed to be a key part of the Browns’ future in the defensive secondary.  He was supposed to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder and thrive off the competition with Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown and Brandon McDonald.  After winning the starting job opposite Brown and waving goodbye to B-Mac, it should have been all downhill as in “easy.”  Instead it was downhill as in headed to the bottom.   As of yesterday, due to a knee injury Eric Wright’s season is officially done.

It couldn’t possibly come at a worse time for Wright.  He flirted with Browns fans in the off-season referring to himself half-jokingly as “pay da man 2″ with a playful nod to Josh Cribbs and Wright’s own desire to make bigtime NFL dollars.  Wright is in the final year of his rookie deal, and this is the contract where NFL players look to make the richest of their careers.  All was going just fine until Wright met Anquan Boldin and Joe Flacco in the third week of this season.

Make no mistake. Eric Wright wasn’t the only reason that Anquan Boldin went for eight catches and three touchdowns that day.  Unfortunately for Wright, he ended up wearing it around his neck like a 300 pound weighted necklace.  While some were supportive of Wright, including his head coach, ultimately Wright was unable to snap out of it compounding bad performances one after the next.

Eric Wright isn’t necessarily done in the NFL or with the Browns.  The market has obviously shrunken for his services from where it was expected to be before the season began.  Then again, the Browns don’t have a ton of depth and seemingly won’t have to put a huge dollar amount next to his name to at least let him compete for the starting nickel job in 2011.

Eric Mangini certainly doesn’t seem to have ruled it out. “He definitely had some ups and downs this season. I thought he was outstanding last season, so the person hasn’t changed and the player hasn’t changed. The important thing for him is to be able to come back from the injury and be as consistent as he can at the high level that he has shown. He has played at a very high level. Last year he was pretty much on his own all of the time and did a great job.”

NFL corners can be streaky, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that given a full off-season of reflection and training that Wright could come back and outperform whatever contract he ends up getting.  Wright isn’t exactly the physical, tackling beast that Tom Heckert and Eric Mangini dream of at night, but counting him out as a Cleveland Brown next season could be a mistake too.

  • Joe in Wooster

    Joe Haden and TJ Ward have so far been proven to be VERY GOOD draft picks… looking forward to the next DB pick to be made from the Holmgren era. I really did like Eric Wright, but I think this season has shown he is done.

  • jbreg

    I definitely wouldn’t mind resigning Wright (if his knee is 100% next year), he just can’t be the #1 guy. I think he would be fine as the #2 or #3 corner. It would help take the pressure off him, and if he returns to his 2009 form then we would have two (or three) very good corners.

  • oribiasi

    @ jbreg — I wouldn’t want to re-sign him if we get a stud in the draft, though. Let’s hope we do.

  • Max

    Joe H. is the new #1. Nickel is the perfect place for Eazy-E

  • Lyon

    If he’s cheap, sign him up. If not, goodbye.

  • Harv 21

    Lot of revisionist evaluation of this player going on. At the end of last season he was ok at coverage, certainly not great, but Exhibit A of our tackling problems. FO implied his work ethic was poor due to feelings of entitlement. Then his preseason talk made optimists, including on this site, assume he had improved before watching him in regular season games.

    This year’s probs have been more than the Boldin game. Maybe he wasn’t quite last year’s laughable road kill attempting to tackle, but his coverage has been horrible, uncertain and 2 steps behind every receiver. This started before he was dinged up.

    Four years in, accurate evaluation seems to be: requisite physical ability of a starting coverage corner but not the football smarts or mental toughness, and doesn’t like contact. I would try to re-sign him as a nickel back and back up. Good corners are hard to find, but he’s in his prime and he’s not that.

  • stin4u

    @Lyon – exactly. I’m not sold either way on this. If they get out bid by someone I’m not going to be upset about it.

  • ben

    I wouldn’t overpay for him, but I certainly wouldn’t be in a hurry to let him go either. His season, by all accounts, has sucked.

    But 3/4 of his years with the browns have been acceptable. Not great, but acceptable. Weren’t we just complaining in the last thread about depth at certain positions (OL, LB, WR). Why would we be in a huge rush to get rid of a decent corner if we don’t have to overpay?

  • dwayne

    See you later Eric, we can pick up a db in the draft or free agency…we lost too many games do to wright alone and if your not producing and causing the team too lose then we should not re-sign him.

  • http://exiledclevelander.wordpress.com AMC

    I’m with Harv 100%.

  • NOTORIOUS C.H.A.C.E.

    Whatever happened to B Mac this year?

  • http://amancalledmeadows@yahoo.com bernardschaefer9@yahoo.com

    I am 76 years old and a Browns fan all my life. I remember the first game they played and what a year. Since coming back into the league we have had coaches and Presidents and GM’s that haven’t been worth a fart, and now we have Mangine and Holgrem and some other guy that don’t know [WFNY edit: dung] from shinola. I think Mangini is gone and now we get someone else that don’t know talent. We passed on Rothisberger and Mathewes from Ohio State and many other players to get to the incompetents that we drafted. People rave at last years draft, and I don’t know why. Hayden could not beat out E Wright early in the year and now it looks like Wright is gone. We just do not know talent. We need a pass rusher and receivers. I think we will have a shot at Heywood out of Ohio State, but we will find something wrong with him. You never have enough offensive linemen but a hard charging defensive end is a must. We also need a running back to go with Payton Hillis and Cribbs has taken the year off. Get a new coach and go from there. Holgrem will no doubt pick Gruden and here we go again. Our biggest need is a new owner, but that won’t happen.

  • NJ

    I agree on keeping Wright for depth, assuming he’s cheap.

    I’m amazed how quickly players go from good to bad in the NFL. Any time I see Nate Clements now it’s on a highlight reel where he’s getting burned for a TD.

  • Shamrock

    Whoever wants to keep Wright under any circumstance hasn’t watched him play. I mean come on are you serious people?

  • Yngwie

    @12. We don’t know talent? The first 3 draft picks we took all ended up in the first round of SI.com’s redraft if things happened today. So basically with 3 picks in the top 75, we got 3 players in the top 20 of their draft class. I’m pretty sure the Browns were the only team in the entire league that picked talent like that.

    Wright needs to go. The tackling in the secondary has really cost the Browns this year and Wright is a big contributor to that. Someone else will pay him more than he’s worth I think. Find a guy with a little worse or even cover skills who is a good tackler.

    The one trouble with CBs is they don’t hit free agency very much in their prime because it’s such a speed position that young guys are more suited towards it. You almost have to draft them to get a really good CB and I don’t think the Browns should spend a top 3 draft pick this year at CB.

  • bobby

    I like Eric and I dont think 1 bad season should be overlooked, but I think he has decent coverage tools that you dont find out of a lot of other CBs. That said, Heckert has been great with his player evaluations, and I will continue to support what they think is best. I would just hate to see Wright leave then bounce right back where he was in 09. Then again, 09 could have been a fluke since BMac was getting torched opposite of him.

  • Jason M.

    @12: I agree with Yngwie, we’ve drafted very well in the last two drafts. To say otherwise is just wrong. Alex Mack, a good young center. Joe Haden, didn’t beat out Wright in camp because he is a rookie. Give him a bit of a chance, please. He’s making plays all over the place now. TJ Ward, Colt McCoy, and (hopefully) Montario Hardesty will be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come. Which football team are you watching?

    As for Wright, I’m going to echo the sentiment of “keep him if possible, but don’t overpay him.” I think his biggest issue is entitlement, and I want to see him lose that and start working his tail off to regain his starting job. He absolutely has the talent to be a shutdown corner, and if he comes back from this injury and works his butt off I would love to see him be the #3 CB and fight to reclaim the #2 job. If he leaves, I wish him the best, but I am hoping he stays.