One note to take from the Bucs 2017 draft is the apparent vote of confidence in Doug Martin.

Three players were selected Friday night – Texas A&M’s Justin Evans, Penn State’s Chris Godwin and LSU’s Kendall Beckwith – and none of them were running backs. General manager Jason Licht was asked at his (midnight) press conference whether his decisions reaffirm the team’s commitment to Martin moving forward.

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR

“Since Doug went through the situation that he’s been in – and it hasn’t been just the last two weeks – we’ve been happy with the trajectory that he’s on,” Licht said, referencing when Martin was in the facility earlier this month. “I’ve said that before but it’s the truth. He’s got the right mindset right now, looks good physically and we still have some time there. But just two years ago he was the second leading rusher in the NFL.”

Tampa Bay did address the running back position Saturday afternoon with the selection of Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols, but he will face a battle to make the roster, much less keep Martin off of it. Another clue the Bucs could be content to roll in Miami with Martin still on the roster: they didn’t sign free agents Adrian Peterson or Jamal Charles and they passed on Dalvin Cook and several other backs before selecting McNichols.

Licht also expressed confidence on Friday in Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Peyton Barber, three other backs who would presumably shoulder the load during Martin’s three game suspension.

After an All-Pro year in 2015, he played in just eight games last season, rushing for 421 yards while averaging 2.9 a carry. His fifth campaign ended in a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy and he later entered a treatment facility.

The series of events, and repercussions that followed, continue to leave doubt about his future in Tampa Bay. But, after passing on a few running back prospects, Martin’s place on the Bucs seems more likely now than it has at any point in 2017.

Licht deflected some of the media’s laser focus Friday night away from Martin and the running back position as a whole. He noted that Tampa Bay is far from setting its first depth chart, at any spot. But the Bucs GM seemed optimistic about the sixth-year back’s hopeful rebound.

“With Doug, we’re just going to keep on pace, keep monitoring,” Licht said. “We’ve had great conversations with him. We still have a few rounds left here. There could be a back, there could be a wide receiver, there could be any position really. Until you get them in here – until you get first-hand knowledge of (a player) in the meeting rooms and, more importantly, out there on the field and in preseason games – you can’t predict if anyone is going to beat anyone out. But what I would say right now is that we’re very happy with how things are going with Doug.

“Within the building, we feel comfortable with our guys – and that includes Doug.”

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: [email protected]

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drdneast
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drdneast

His teammates love and respect him, hell Jameis got into a fight with a DL for him, and his coaches like and respect him as well. But Martin makes one mistake after being here for six years and local moronic members of the media and some fans called for the Bucs to cut him on the spot with no compensation. After looking at certain players for the Bucs in the past that have had the same thing done to them and then gone on to have stellar careers, Licht and Koetter have collectively decided to use their brains not to… Read more »

Dude
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Dude

The problem with Martin is he has been here 5 years, going on 6, and has only had two good years. Even a squirrel finds a nut every now and then. He is on the down side of his career, his YPC is horrible, he can’t catch out of the backfield, and he’s overpaid. We should have cut bait and ran before ever signing him to that absurd contract. But again, for the third time, we hearing how Martin is gearing up for a good season. It’s the same old song and dance. We need a player who shows up… Read more »

toofamiliar17
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toofamiliar17

Man, this is all kinds of wrong. (1) We did draft a RB in this super deep RB draft. His name is Jeremy McNichols. Not sure how that apparently slipped your mind. (2) There is 0 evidence (seriously, 0) that Doug has ever showed up not in shape and/or not focused on the task at hand. Literally every outlet that covers the team has consistently reported on Doug’s great fitness level and superior focus/effort in practices throughout the lead up to every season. The only minor exception is when he showed up a bit heavy in his second year, which… Read more »

wnb0395
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wnb0395

It’s not one mistake Martian made that makes the media and fans to want him gone. It’s the fact that for 60% of his NFL career he has failed to rush for more than 500 yards in a season. The mistake was just an excuse to get rid of him with no cap hit. I like Martian when he is healthy and running but he isn’t reliable. I hope he comes back this year and has a great year but if he gets hurt again this year and has another down year than it’s time to move on. Rate this… Read more »

billbyrne
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billbyrne

Great post drdneast and very well said. You make ALL the right points and I am one of those pulling and praying for Doug Martin. Thanks for your comment. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

scubog
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scubog

Totally agree Dr. D. There is absolutely no benefit to cutting Doug Martin any more than cutting Hey Jude or Kwon for the same infraction. I look for the O-line to be much improved with Marpet at center instead of the mediocre duo of Hawley and Smith. I’m sure Licht and staff will let the whole situation play out and not make any decision until the week before the October 1st Giants game. That’s a long time to assess. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

Dude
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Dude

By the time Oct 1st rolls around it will be too late to make any real changes at RB. We will be stuck with what we got. I don’t think we should have cut Martin, but we should have got his replacement in this RB talent laden draft. So when Sept. 1st rolls around and Martin is hurt, or averaging 2 YPC, we could move on and not miss a beat. The only thing we will find then is guy who no team wanted. Probably for good reason. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

surferdudes
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Since Martin can’t play till week four I say run his ass ragged in training camp, and preseason. Let’s see if he can stay healthy, let’s see if he can mentally hold up not being the projected opening day starter that normally gets protected. Quizz doesn’t need the wear, and tear, McNichols coming off surgery has to be eased in. Run the hell out of Doug, and Sims. If they can’t make it through preseason, they sure can’t make it 16 games. Of course Barber needs reps too. Most fans assume we didn’t draft R.B. because we have Sims, Martin.… Read more »

Naplesfan
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Naplesfan

I’m pretty sure that Coach Koetter is not going to set his goal for training camp and preseason games is to try and break Doug Martin. He will surely give Doug plenty of reps to verify his condition and production … but that’s not anywhere near the same at “running his ass ragged” as you wrote. Ditto with the other running backs (we now have 8 backs on the roster, so we’re likely to cut at least three, maybe four of those). Koetter will try to figure out who’s keepers and who’s not. The Bucs aren’t going to cut Doug… Read more »

toofamiliar17
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toofamiliar17

If he gets seriously injured in preseason, then he’ll go to IR and get paid anyways, not get cut. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

Naplesfan
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Naplesfan

He’s suspended from the roster until he completes his remaining three games. Therefore he can get cut … the Bucs are under zero obligation to pay him anything until he completes the three game suspension, including the right to unilaterally void his contract. The Bucs are in the captain’s seat in this matter – so all that Martin can do is perform and prove his value. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

toofamiliar17
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toofamiliar17

The problem with this idea is that if you run Doug ragged in camp and he gets hurt, then you can’t cut him without paying him. Seems to me to be a senseless risk when there’s basically no upside to such a decision. You can figure out in camp and throughout the preseason where he’s at physically and mentally without running him into the ground with excessive practice reps and too many preseason game touches. Cuz if he gets hurt in one of those games, then we get the best of both worlds – he gets paid, and he’s off… Read more »

drdneast
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drdneast

Surferdudes comments and perspective are indicative of some of the high school harry viewpoints that some arm chair GMs bring out here. This isn’t a semi pro league or a high school from Plano, Tx where Gen. Patton like coaches roam the sidelines spouting team gibberish. The NFL is a billion dollar business and as such the Bucs consider Martin a valuable assett and commodity to the business. Most of the vitroil about Martin revolves around his paycheck and people thinking he is overpaid. That may be so, but until the Bucs want to spend the money else where, why… Read more »