The physical and athletically-gifted Wright agreed to a one-year deal with the NFC North Lions early Friday morning. The signing comes shortly after Wright was granted unrestricted free agency following the newly designed NFL collective bargaining agreement. The Browns had attempted to tender Wright heading into the lockout, but the four-year veteran was one of the many players to enter the free agent pool once the lockout was lifted.
The Lions had reportedly been in play for former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Jonathan Joseph prior to the talented former Gamecock landed a lucrative five-year deal with the Houston Texans. Thus, the Lions opted to move up Interstate 71 and pluck another player with AFC North experience in Wright. After starting all four seasons in Cleveland, Wright is anticipated to join the starting unit of the much-improved Lions defense.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said if Wright were to stay in Cleveland as the emergence of rookie Joe Haden (64 tackles and six interceptions despite only starting in seven contests) would have likely forced the former 2007 second-round selection to a reserve role in Dick Jauron’s defense scheme.
Wright amassed eight interceptions in his first three seasons with the Browns before falling flat on his face in 2010, plucking one pass while playing in only 10 games prior to his season ending in injury. One of the 10 is a game that will likely live on for a while as the Eric Wright game where Baltimore’s Anquan Boldin burnt the once-promising cornerback for three touchdowns.
Wright’s father recently tweeted that “issues with individuals within the Browns organization” made it impossible for his son to re-sign with the team. Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports that Wright actually turned down more money and a longer offer from the Browns to sign with the Lions.
It was roughly one year ago today when Wright had joked with the Browns fans and front office, dubbing himself “Pay Da Man 2″ on the wake of Josh Cribbs’ PR-led campaign to get a new contract. The team added cornerbacks Haden and Sheldon Brown, adding some fuel to the competition fire, hoping that three starting-caliber cornerbacks would help the considerably weak pass rush. Alas, the Browns are now back in the hunt for a cornerback as the list of free agent names continues to dwindle day by day.
As of Thursday afternoon, per The OBR, the Browns had not spoken with the representation for Nate Clements; speculation is that the Browns will not spend an exorbitant amount of money on what will ultimately be a reserve corner. Top unrestricted cornerbacks remaining include former Raider Nnamdi Asomugha (whom the Browns have next to zero chance in signing), former Raven Chris Carr, former Steeler Ike Taylor, and former Redskin Carlos Rogers.
Photo via Scott Sargent/WFNY