(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
The Buccaneers understand the value and importance that All-Pro running back Doug Martin brings to the offense. Now the question for Tampa Bay’s front office is how does that translate into dollars and cents?
Martin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on March 9, and both sides are very interested in finding common ground on a contract that will keep Martin in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, the Bucs front office have the upper hand – and final say – as it has the option to keep Martin in Tampa Bay for another year by placing the franchise tag on him.
However, the likelihood of that happening is almost zero, as the price to keep Martin in Tampa Bay would be in the one-year, $12 million range. That’s a steep price for a running back with two excellent seasons sandwiched around two years of less than 500 yards rushing and multiple injuries.
The Bucs haven’t used the franchise since Jason Licht took over as the team’s general manager in 2014, and it looks like 2016 will be the third year the tag goes unused.
Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Getty Images
Martin’s agent, David Dunn, has plenty of ammunition when sitting down at the negotiation table. The former Boise State standout rushed for 1,402 yards in a Pro Bowl season in 2015, leading the NFL in runs over 20 yards (14), and helped propel the Bucs offense to a franchise record for offensive production last season, doing so with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Dunn will also point out that the combination of Martin and Charles Sims produced one of the league’s best one-two punch at running back, and that according to ProFootballFocus.com, Martin graded out at as the NFL’s top running back for elusiveness, forcing 67 missed tackles last season.
Add in the fact that new head coach Dirk Koetter and rookie QB Jameis Winston have both openly campaigned for Martin to be re-signed, and at first glance, Dunn and Martin have more chips on their side of the table.
Bucs GM Jason Licht and HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay’s front office would certainly agree to all of Dunn’s points, but would bring up the fact Martin fumbled five times in 2015, second to just Adrian Peterson in the NFL. And as mentioned earlier, Martin had two less than stellar seasons in 2013 and ’14 following his breakout rookie season of 2012, where he rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns and earned his first Pro Bowl berth. The Bucs could also point out, that despite Martin’s rushing yardage totals, he only found the end zone six times in 2015, putting him a tie for 12th among NFL running backs.
While recent speculation has run rampant that Martin might enter free agency without a new contract and test the market, both sides still want to see Martin in pewter and red in 2016 and beyond. Because of that mutual desire, chances remain good that Martin will remain with the Buccaneers.
It makes too much sense for both camps, and when the theme of “offensive continuity” has been the buzz word in Tampa Bay since the end of the 2015 season, Martin most likely lines up behind Winston when the season opener kicks off in September this year. It just likely won’t be as a $12 million, franchised-tagged running back.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Agree – the $12m makes no sense for the Bucs….and it makes no sense for Martin to sign a deal ahead of FA given that contracts can essentially just be ripped-up by teams…all that counts is his “guaranteed” money and that’s going to be maximized by testing FA….all the rest is just smoke and mirrors…
Pay the man, he has earned it. I for one don’t want to see another good player slip away because the wallet won’t open.
The Bucs are bloated with extra cap space so this is no time to get cheap.
The team will also have more money to spend since they just raised the ticket prices on those who could least afford it.
What is keeping the deal from being completed? I don’t understand why this can’t be done if both sides truly want each other, what’s the hold up? I think Doug E Fresh wants to get paid! Can’t say i blame him but it’s gonna suck playing against him. My guess is that Dallas ends up being the team to swoop him up!
I think the bucs must sign Martin. He’s the man that did his job and he wants to stay with Tampa his entired career. He deserved the money besides they have the money.
I am honestly indifferent if he stays/goes.
2 good season, 2 injury plagued seasons.
Lacks BREAKAWAY speed! Does he help move the chains? Absolutely. Does he help pass pro for Jameis? Absolutely. So the needle leans toward keeping him.
BUT, as his asking price goes up… his needle goes down IMO.
We can sign a FA or draft an RB late. Sims will do just fine.
ps With Forte set to hit the market, I bet Lovie would have let Martin walk and signed Forte for same money.
Top 10 FA players need to resing next year in order of importance.
1.Doug Martin (FA): No reason to start all over with a new back when you have one of the Top 5 backs in the NFL. Wasting a draft pick on a new RB is just as stupid. Neither the Cowboys or the Eagles benefited when they let their top pick walk away. if Martin wants a million more than the market says, pay it. You have plenty of space. Good employees are hard to find.
2.Jacquies Smith (ERFA): It’s not like the Bucs would miss on this. The price is right too.
3.Sterling Moore(FA): Not like the Bucs have a plethora of average DB’s which is probably what Moore is.
4.Henry Melton(FA): Price will probably be right but there are more quality DT’s, hitting FA than DE’s. Provides depth but he went from 6 sacks in ’14 to 2 in ’15.
5.) Chris Conte(FA): Once again the Bucs are woefully thin at DB and the price is right. Consistently was probably the best DB we had last year.
6.Danny Lansanah(RFA): Wasn’t as impactful as his first year but the Bucs aren’t so full of depth they can let a starter walk. Still, I doubt there is much interest in him around the league.
7.Keith Tandy(FA): Solid special teams and reserve defensive back. Always seems to be on the bubble but has outlasted high draft picks like Mark Barron and D.J. Swearinger. Had a solid game against the Bears.
8.Bradley McDougald(RFA): Groomed specifically to play in the Cover 2, will he be able to play in any other type of coverage. Even though he was supposed to be geared to play in the cover 2, he got lost in it last year and blew assignments that resulted in TD’s. Still he was a starter and as said before, the team is thin at DB.
9.Larry English(FA): A former No. 1 pick by the Chargers, will this guy ever develop into anything resembling his former self. Again, the Bucs aren’t flush with quality DE’s so give him one final look.
10.T.J. Fatinikun(ERFA): PR reports he has bulked up and his upper body looks like Tarzans. I hope he also worked on his legs so he doesn’t play like Jane. With apologies to Scott Brantley who originated the phrase.
Finally, if I see Mike Jenkins on the field for the Bucs this year there is a good chance I won’t even watch them play on TV.
I am for paying Martin but not over the top money. Give him big signing bonus and graduate the contract over next 3 … 4 years, lower to higher. A walk away contact after first year if production isn’t there or injury occura.
Five million a year is more than fair. The key is to reasonably pay as many producer’s as possible and not cause adversity within the team. I have zero confidence Martin can stay healthy in the 2016 season based on his previous years. I support how Licht is handling this issue. Go Bucs!
I agree, sign Martin to fair contract, no franchise tag. Martin and Sims make a great backfield. Additionally I would look at a 3rd contingency i.e. Henry in 2nd or Dixon in the 3rd. We need to maintain a strong running game and having a rookie in the breach is important.
with so many other team needs to fill, Dougie gong away has to hurt. Sure, we can fill it; but, only at the expence of not addressing other needs – again.
I’m sure Licht has a price tag on Dougie. If Dougie doesn’t like it, I’m putting it on Dougie. We have Sims and Mike James. And, if we resign him, Bobby Rainey. That’s not to shabby.
Lions cut Joique Bell; we definitely don’t have to overpay Dougie.
Agree martinii. we should sign him but need to have a back up plan if he goes down. Sims can step in but he needs a back up too, so, yes, sign him and find a rookie for a rainy day.
Very interesting and I don’t mind seeing Dougie check his market value. The name I am hearing now is Lamar Miller. If the BUcs do lose Dougie, he would be a name to watch.
He’s got a whole lot less wear on the tires, and has much better break away speed. I wouldn’t worry about Dougie blocking on third down considering he doesn’t even do that now. Chalres is our 3rd down guy. That’s my main problem here. No one that is only a 2 down guy should get 12 million dollars at that position. Love Dougie, but not that much.
Yeah, I don’t expect the Bucs to use the Franchise Tag on Dougie either. I’m just saying that’s what I would do to give myself options. If you decide to draft E. Elliott then you start D. Martin, have Elliott spell Dougie when he’s tired and use Sims on 3rd down. If Dougie gets hurt this season then have Elliott take over as the starter. Either way, you let Dougie walk after 2016. If you did tag Dougie and draft Elliott that would be wasting about $6 million as Dougie’s deal should probably average half of that franchise tag, but we have the cap space to spare and we would ensure a young, long term solution at RB that is as good or could be an upgrade. If you tag Dougie and don’t draft E. Elliott, you then work out a long term deal with D. Martin the week after the draft and you never have to pay the $12 million for 2016. In the end though, you don’t want to not tag Dougie then risk someone else drafting Elliott ahead of you so this whole plan is based on Dougie getting tagged, so to come full circle I don’t see any of this happening.
Martin will get paid in the neighborhood of $6.5 mil per year. 4 years/26 million is fair market value. If they would have exercised his option on the 5th year, he would have made over $5 million. That number only goes up, not down, especially with the great statistical season and the lobbying frm the coaches. I think Martin returns to Tampa, although I could see the Giants, Colts, 49ers, Seahawks, Texans or Raiders paying him.
I don’t know why some of you guys are worried about paying Martin to much money, it isn’t your money.
The Glazers sure aren’t worried about your money as indicated by their raising ticket prices.
I doubt Martin is looking for $12 million since that is franchise money and players always sign lower than that for the most part.
The Bucs are way under the salary cap and this year if they don’t get up to minimum, the money they don’t spend gets split up between all the players.
The price of BMW’s went up too drdneast. Guess you’ll have to settle for a Volvo like I did. I should warn you though. They aren’t free either.
People are worried about the money because of the cap hell this team was in previous years for overpaying FA’s etc. Need fair market value and term length when signing players. Don’t have to spend every penny of cap.
Because a salary Cap is a large reason to worry about what you pay Doug. It’s kind of the backbone of how you run a football team.
4 to 5 mil per year or see ya running backs are cheap nobody pays them anymore
Rotoworld’s been saying that the Bucs would like to pay Martin $6 million per year, while Martin’s agent realizes that DeMarco Murray got an $8 million per year contract last season. The cap’s being raised by more than $10 million this season, so every team in the NFL and afford to pay that price. The Bucs have no excuse for letting the best pure rusher in the league walk.
James and Rainey had good seasons when the Bucs had superb offensive linemen. Martin and Sims ran and caught behind a line that was good at some positions and mediocre at others. Martin broke a lot of tackles and made a lot of holes for himself. Not many backs can do that.
If the Bucs get cheap with Martin, I’ll be cheap with them. No season tickets for me this season. That’s my litmus test for whether they’re serious about becoming a competitive team. $2 million out of a cap of $155 million is 1 and a half percent of their player budget. C’mon, guys.
I agree that Licht has a plan and a limit on what to offer Martin. Just because we have the money, doesn’t mean that we should “gift” it out. Martin is a good running back but obviously not worth the franchise tag. We all know that he’s injury prone and its just a matter of time. Give him what he’s worth.
Gee whiz scudog, if we use your logic then I should be paying less for my seaon tickets this year.
I don’t mind paying more for a BMW because I’m going to get better performance and handling than a Volvo.
But right now I’m riding in a Kia called the Bucs.
BTW, the reliability of the BMW and Volvo stinks, I’d much rather have a Honda or Toyota.
I like to keep my money rather than give it to mechanics named Hans and Otto so they can head back and enjoy long summer vacations in Bravaria.
Stone1, if you run a company, I’m sure it’s about to go bankrupt since no one of any quality would work for you with your attitude.
Drdneast, how much is it really worth just to get from point A to B? Martin has only performed in 2 out of 4 years.
It’s ScuBog as in Go Bucs backwards. Unless you were attempting to be derogatory. I figured you for a Preis or minivan. Since season tickets are paid in advance, perhaps the Bucs are planning a new and improved product. Oh, they did get better didn’t they? 2 wins to 6 wins. Guess your argument doesn’t calculate.
I doubt you’ve ever owned either a BMW or Volvo, but I’m pretty sure the oriental car names you mentioned have service departments and maybe even Asian named mechanics.
Horse, injuries happen to all players and because they are hit so often, especially to running backs.
If you want the best, or in this case the top 5 best, then you have to pay for the best.
How many time have I heard fans screaming about how cheap the Glazer boys are and here some of you guys are encouraging the behavior.
We aren’t talking about Quincy Black, Mile Williams or Michael Clayton here.
This is a player who has performed exceptionally well when healthy and has a great work ethic.
Pay the man.
Facts mean nothing to you. The Glazer boys have been anything but cheap. Your perceptions are not reality just because it’s what you think.
Drdneast, I have only heard most of the remarks from fans who appear to have little available funds themselves nor how to incorporate a Budget and better it’s expectatins. I drove Caddy’s for years because they were big and easy to handle vehicles. I see many small vehicles on the side of the roads, but no Caddy’s or Mercedes; not so sure about scubog’s volvo’s though as I have friends that complain about them being in the shop too much. This time I purchased an Explorer, first Ford product I ever owned. I keep my cars for 6 years with exteneded warranties then trade in. So far I waste my money on those warranties. I would still be buying Caddy’s if they had left the DTS alone. Big men need big cars.
Scubog, as anal retentive as most Volvo owners are, I’m surprised your reading comprehension skills aren’t better than what you are indicating.
Reread my post and tell me where “I” said the Glazers were cheap.
As a matter of fact, I indicated just the opposite by saying they overpid Black, Williams and Clayton.
If you think going to 2 wins to 6 wins is a great leap forward, then I’m not surprised you drive a Volvo.
Apparently on that particular post you referenced other fans with whom you now say you don’t align yourself. Again with attempts at insult. I didn’t say it was a great “leap”, I said it was technically the sign of “improvement” you demand in order to pay for the tickets. So, Volvo owners are anal? Does also owning a 1994 Isuzu pick-up make me like you?
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