Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright has taken a significant pay cut to remain with the team, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Mike Garafolo of the USA Today reports that Wright will earn $1.5 million with an additional $1.5 million available in incentives. Wright's primary motivation for agreeing to the pay cut is likely that it creates a path to free agency in 2014 as the final three seasons of the contract have been torn up.
Wright was scheduled to earn $7.75 million in 2013, a sum that had been fully guaranteed when the veteran cornerback signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract on March 14, 2012. That guarantee voided when Wright was suspended for four games during the 2012 season for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
As one would expect with nearly $8 million on the line, Wright's camp filed a grievance regarding the voided guarantee. According to a source with knowledge of Wright's contract, the default language portion listed suspensions by the NFL or the Buccaneers for "conduct detrimental" or "personal conduct" policy violations, but did not specifically mention performance-enhancing drug policy violations such as the one that cost Wright four games and a substantial portion of his $7.25 million base salary.
The four-game suspension cost Wright $1.7 million in base salary last season. Combined with the $6.25 million Wright will lose as part of Tuesday's renegotiation, that five-year, $37.5 million contract he signed last March has turned into a two-year contract worth $7.5 million.
In 10 games for the Buccaneers, Wright had 37 tackles and returned his one interception 60 yards for a touchdown. Wright is expected to remain in a starting role, perhaps opposite Darrelle Revis, provided the Buccaneers and New York Jets can work out a trade.