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.