Bucs RB Doug Martin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are being lauded as having one of the best drafts in the league, largely due to having a top 10 talent in Alabama All-American tight end O.J. Howard fall to them at No. 19 in the first round.
But the Bucs weren’t the only winners in the draft.
So was Doug Martin, the team’s Pro Bowl running back in 2013 and again in ’15.
All indications point to Martin sticking with the Bucs in 2017 despite him not being available for the first three games of the season due to a league suspension. I said as much on PewterReport.com’s Twitter on Monday night.
From everything I’ve heard coming out of One Buc Place, Doug Martin isn’t going anywhere. He looks great and he’ll be a Buccaneer this year.
— Scott Reynolds (@PewterReport) May 1, 2017
From everything I’ve heard coming out of One Buc Place, Doug Martin isn’t going anywhere. He looks great and he’ll be a Buccaneer this year.
— Scott Reynolds (@PewterReport) May 1, 2017
Bucs general manager Jason Licht took to NFL Network’s Good Morning Football show to suggest the same thing when asked about Martin’s future in Tampa Bay.
“He’s looked as good as I’ve seen him here the last couple of weeks through OTAs both mentally and physically,” Licht said about Martin. “He’s been outstanding. We do like our backfield. Jacquizz Rodgers played a big role for us last year and answered the bell. We’ve got Charles Sims who we see being healthy in training camp this year. We’ve got Peyton Barber and now we’ve drafted Jeremy McNichols. We like to have options. One of those options we like having with us right now is the second-leading rusher in 2015 with Doug Martin.”
Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
That echoed Licht’s own remarks after Day 2 of the draft on Friday night, giving strong indications that Martin is a big part of the Bucs’ plans this year.
“We like our group and since Doug (Martin), since he went through the situation that he’s been in, it hasn’t been just the last two weeks,” Licht said. “We’ve been happy with the trajectory that he’s on. I’ve said that before, but it’s the truth. He has the right mindset right now and looks good physically. We still have some time there. Just two years ago he was the second-leading rusher in the NFL. We like Jacquizz obviously, and Charles, Peyton. Sometimes people seem to think that – that’s within the building we feel comfortable with our guys and that includes Doug.”
Not only did Tampa Bay not sign free agent and future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson in free agency, watching him sign with division rival New Orleans instead, the Bucs didn’t spend a premium pick on a running back. That would be a clear indicator that the team was moving on from Martin, who was given a four-game suspension at the end of last year for PED (performance enhancing drug) use– three games of which will have to be served at the start of the 2017 regular season.
The Bucs passed on Florida State runner Dalvin Cook at No. 19 and were prepared to do so in the second round, although Minnesota, which selected ahead of Tampa Bay, drafted Cook with the 41st overall pick.
The Bucs also passed on Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, USF’s Marlon Mack and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine – three rushers the team had invested a lot of time with – in both the second and third rounds to select Texas A&M safety Justin Evans and Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin, respectively.
Tampa Bay selected McNichols in the fifth round, but he’s considered to be more of an immediate threat to Sims’ status as the team’s pass-catching running back on third down than he is to Martin as a feature back-type runner.
Martin has been a standout in the team’s offseason condition program, and that has boosted his stock at One Buccaneer Place.
“Doug has looked awesome the past couple of weeks,” Bucs tight end Cameron Brate told PewterReport.com. “He’s been dominating the conditioning drills. That’s not something you can fake – those conditioning drills. You have either been putting in the work or you haven’t. Just to see him in good spirits – physically he looks awesome – all of the guys on the team love Doug. We’re excited to see him back. He’s happy and he’s healthy. We’re all excited for him.”
Bucs RB Jacquizz Rodgers – Photo by: Getty Images
Martin won’t begin the season as a starter due to his three-game suspension. That duty will likely fall on the shoulders of Rodgers while Martin will be banned from One Buccaneer Place until September 25 to prepare for the Week 4 home game against the New York Giants.
There is a chance that the Bucs will approach Martin, who completed a self-induced substance abuse treatment program this offseason, about taking a pay cut. He was slated to make $7 million in base salary in 2017, but with the three game checks he will miss as a result of his suspension, he is scheduled to make $5,764,706 instead.
Martin signed a five-year, $35.75 million contract last year after rushing for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns and catching 33 passes for 271 yards and another score in 2015 in helping the Bucs offense achieve a Top 5 ranking and over 6,000 total yards for the first time in franchise history. However, a hamstring injury and ineffectiveness limited Martin to 421 yards and three touchdowns and a career-low 2.9 yards per carry in 2016. Martin also didn’t post a 100-yard game in a season for the first time in his career.
All remaining guaranteed money in Martin’s contract was voided when he was suspended for Week 17 last year. So if the team wanted to part ways with the former Boise State runner who was selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft there would be no dead cap hit for Tampa Bay.
But, for now, it appears Martin is here to say.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
I am just happy my Doug Martin jersey is still relevant. He still a good player, he just seems to get in his own way some times, but he has a clear head and has his body at 100%, he can be one of the best in the league.
Me too. I have far too many jerseys who were victims of the Curse of the Scubog Player Jersey in the back of my closet. Perhaps #22 can move toward the front row.
I like Martin – have liked him since the day we drafted him, even when some were calling for his dismissal in 2014. However, important to note that he has missed 23 games in the last 4 years, and will miss at a minimum 3 to start 2017. Depth would seem important.
Jacquizz Rodgers: played in 4 games for us before getting hurt (I am excluding the Saints game where he rushed twice for zero yards). Tied for 16th (out of 43) in average yards per attempt (4.3) among rushers with 99 or more attempts (he had 129 attempts). His best game was 75 yards against CAR.
Charles Sims has missed 17 games in the last 3 years. His career rushing average is under 4 yards on only 224 career attempts, with 2 career rushing TDs. The most carries in a single game he has ever had is 18 (2014), where he gained 69 yards. His best rushing total in a game was 78 on 8 carries (one carry for 59 yards).
Peyton Barber has 55 career attempts, with a 4.1 average per attempt.
Jeremy McNichols had 314 attempts last year in college. His college averages are clearly impressive given he was drafted in the NFL.
In terms of being able to step-in and carry the load for Martin if he misses time in 2017:
– 129 attempts last year by Rodgers before he got hurt is by far the most he’s carried the ball in over 6 years.
– Sims has much better stats when used as a 3rd down back.
– Barber has 55 career attempts, and even in college had only one season of meaningful attempts (224).
I think there’s a real possibility of seeing McNichols carry the load in 2017 at some point (maybe not in the first 3 games) – and I’m excited to see it happen…looks like a solid pick in the 7th round.
5th round, but yeah. Martin is a Pro Bowler when he’s healthy and has an OL. It’s also critical to note that he won’t be facing 8 in the box anymore, because if he does, Winston will have a field day with Evans, Godwin, DJax, and Howard. I’ve been a Bucs fan for 30 years, and this will almost certainly be the most exciting Bucs offense I’ve ever seen. I loved winning the Super Bowl with defense, but 6-3 games are kind of boring to watch sometimes.
Good observation. Indeed the Bucs offense has never looked this good on paper. With the weapons at his disposal I expect Winston to really prosper.
Just needs to get better at the long passes. He already knows how to find the open man. The big problem last year was too many throws to Evans.
Evans certainly should be smiling.
sorry – all the same comment but replace 7th with 5th.
Still need that “edit” button we used to have…it should say Rodgers played 10 games before getting hurt. The point was supposed to be that: a) Martin has an unfortunate history of missing time, b) the 2016 backups have never carried a large load (129 for Rodgers), and c) that could work out well for McNichols playing time, which would be interesting to see.
Time and games will tell, as always, but I don’t believe that the running game will be a minus this year as it was last season. With Sweezy returned to health, possibly a new starter at center, and will a very good blocking starting tight end, our running back by committee should be effective. Throw in the newfound speed receivers who will open up the field, the days of 7 or 8 defenders in the box should be over and done with.
If Doug Martin stays as healthy as he appears to be now by all accounts, and with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jeremy McNichol capable of carrying the load while Doug sits out, we will have the horses to run behind what will likely be an improved offensive line.
Let me add that the lack of quality in the wide receiver position, outside of Mike Evans who routinely drew double teams, and particularly the lack of speed in our WR corps last year had to have made a negative impact on our running game. With nobody to stretch the field, it just made it way too easy to bring most defenders down to near the line of scrimmage and contain our running game. Whether that contributed to Martin’s injury, or whether his injury was totally unrelated to any other part of the offense, who can say? But even with a healthy Doug Martin, if defenses only respect a single WR on the field, and do not respect our team speed down field, then he is not going to shake loose tightly spaced multiple defenders.
For the second time in two years Licht is betting on Doug to be a Pro Bowl level player. Doug has two great years and three abysmal years. That’s just the facts. When he shows up to camp focused and engaged, he runs like a top 10 RB. I like what Doug brings to our run game. He helps the OL out with his vision and ability to make guys miss at the LOS. Let’s hope his mind is right because with how the draft went, we desperately need him to produce AND stay healthy. Hate that our RB group is one serious injury away from being a disaster. Smh.
“Hate that our RB group is one serious injury away from being a disaster.”
You just described 90% of NFL teams
Sure. Doesn’t make it not true. Especially after we witnessed it basically derail last season and not really addressing it in the draft. Think we all can admit that it’s a gamble betting on Doug to have a good year.
Not sure what you are saying. This team won 9 games last year without Doug. On paper, the 2017 Bucs look better than last year’s version. I don’t see how Doug Martin getting injured would derail anything. If Jameis were to get hurt, I’d say the season might be lost. But I don’t think like that because why be so negative? I’d like to think the Bucs will all stay healthy and we can bring a 2nd Lombardi trophy to Tampa.
Thought it was pretty clear, but I’ll try to sharpen it up. I’m not being negative. Just expressing a concern. Gambling on Doug to have a good year is a risk. He’s had 2 good years. 3 bad/injury years. Chances are he’s the lead back come week 4. If he has another injury plagued year, we’re right back where we were last season. Quizz isn’t a lead back and more qualified to be back/complimentary back. We know Sims can’t do it. Barber is just okay. McNichols can hopefully be a true backup, but most likely he’ll be a Sims type player in the NFL. So again, betting on Doug is a gamble.
The team did win 9 games, but it took a major effort by the defense to accomplish that feat and some lucky breaks. The offense and Jameis, without a run game, were stressed to the limit. We were really unbalanced. The offense looks a lot more solid after the draft/FA, but without a legit run game it’ll be hard to win 10 games.
It’s possible the Bucs think they did address the root cause of the problem. After ASJ went ASJ and VJackson couldn’t beat father time, the crew of WRs we marched out on the field opposite Evans gave little concern for for opposing defenses to deal with. So they concentrated on stopping the run, slowing down Evan as best they could, and limited our time of possession. The percentage of total offense that Evans accounted for shows that last year there was more issues to deal with than just a bad year from our RB. Getting some WR & TE depth will actually make opposing DC’s have to put in some work now.
I absolutely agree they addressed glaring needs at WR and TE. Great additions to the offense. But the Bucs basically had the same issues, ASJ out & VJax injured/WR depth, in 2015, but we could lean on the run game. The OL still needs to run block better and hopefully we’ll have some semblance of a run game this season and better balance.
It’s not even true, Hank, and RootsCrew (i.e., one injury away from disaster). Our poor running performance last year was not due to a single injury to Doug Martin .. it was due to a combination of many factors, including the loss of Mankins to retirement, the loss of Sweezy to injury, and injuries to Jacquizz Rodgers (who performed very well prior to his injury) and Charles Sims .. plus slow-as-molasses-in-January wide receiver and tight end crews that failed to spread the defense out.
Most quality NFL teams today use some form of running back by committee … the effectiveness of any team’s run game is far more dependent upon the performance of the offensive line, as well as on the performance of the passing game (a good passing game opens up the defense for the running game) than on the performance of any individual running back.
and almost 100% of most team’s position depth
What is your point on “because with how the draft went”?
I think most folks, both fans and media people and other GMs who’ve spoken with the media or with our GM, thought our draft went pretty damned good, with at least three “steals” in the persons of OJ Howard, Chris Godwin, and Jeremy McNichols, all drafted considerably later than most projected.
With Doug Martin, as with all players on the roster, the better he plays the better the team will do, obviously.
Yeah, don’t think the draft was bad by any stretch. Love the first 3 picks. Not sure why you assumed the worst. Wish we would have swapped out Beckwith with a CB or RB, but whatever. Gambling on Doug and not grabbing a younger, cheaper replacement earlier in the draft is a risk. Hopefully McNichols is another Doug. The Pro Bowl version. We’ll see.
Don’t overlook our new lineman. OJ Howard, Alabama ran behind him all the time. Hope we see OJ and Stocker on the same line when we are closing out games. With Sweezy playing the running game will be better.
We missed Mankins something awful last year. Picking OJ has immediately improved the running game. I’m excited.
Agreed. The deeper receiving corps will also contribute. Excited about this offense!
I don’t know that keeping Doug Martin was necessarily Plan A going into the draft.
If the intent all along was to make Doug the starting RB in week 4 then the front office should have renegotiated his contract before they lost a lot of their leverage in the draft by taking one RB in the 5th round. Now Doug who has the 4th highest salary of any RB in the league and the 9th highest even with 3 games off has a lot less reason to fear being cut than he did one week ago, especially with Licht now talking him up.
I have a hard time believing that it makes any sense to pay him that much on a non-guaranteed contract after the years and problems he’s had. Remember, the cap money that the Bucs save this year can be rolled into next year, so there is actually a benefit to the team to getting the most economical deal out Martin’s contract and not just pay up (like Vincent Jackson) because you don’t want to ruffle feathers with a vet.
The Bucs still have leverage with Doug. His guaranteed money only lasted through this season, which regardless of what shape he’s in, the Bucs can still void that through the end of his 3-week suspension.
If Doug really shows up well through pre-season, such that he looks very promising once his suspension is done, the Bucs can still ask him to take a reduction in guaranteed money this season, but spice it up with performance incentives that would let him earn it right back, or even more, while also giving him an opportunity to extend the following year if his performance holds this year.
At least, that’s what I would do if I were GM for a day .. which thankfully for the Bucs, I’m not! 🙂
Bucs still have all the leverage in this situation. How many teams still have a plethora of cap space and a need for a RB? Not many = low demand. Throw in what’s been said regarding production percentage and the off the field issue and the result is lower demand. Even if we ask for a pay cut, Martin’s best bet is probably still in TB.
And not paying him for the performance that earned him that boost – is supposed to make him play better ? Would you like it if you were in his shoes ? This isn’t your money . The Bucs will spend what it takes to improve – that’s it . The monetary difference is trivial to the owners – Opportunity Cost .
Hank Scorpio, how very well put.
Despite the drafting of Godwin since he is an unproven rookie, our WR corp is in the same position as last year if either Evans or our other new guy goes down. Hopefully Godwin can and will fill that void but who knows for sure.
The one added plus we have this year is OJ Howard who will provide needed depth and speed at TE.
Good news as I have said before Doug has taken a beating with poor o lines in past year’s . This also shows that the team will not abandon a player for one mistake. The Bucs gave ASJenkins a few chances to clean up his act but I guess he was to immature to understand.
It seems like Doug Martin did what a lot of players do: play their hearts out in a contract year. After that big contract came, he got complacent, got hurt, and then ended up using drugs. I think these early indications are that Dougernaut has a renewed sense of purpose, and knows he has to earn it all over again. I am assuming that Licht will re-work Doug’s contract to offer much less guaranteed, and more incentives. Having Quizz and McNichols will push Doug more, while also keeping his legs fresh during games. I don’t see Sims having much impact now that we have McNichols as a potential 3rd down back. I think in a few years McNichols will be our workhorse. For now, I really like our backfield depth. It is going to be up to our O-line to stay healthy and gel, hopefully with Sweezy and OJ Howard making a difference. Howard and DJax will keep defenses honest on the passing game and open up more lanes as well. I am looking forward to a potent offense this year. Go Bucs!
Doug Martin got injured. All players want to have stellar years every year, out of pride in themselves and in their profession. I don’t get why so many fans assign cynical values to matters that are beyond the control of the player, like an injury.
Last year, the OL was ranked 18th Overall but 24th in run blocking. The only change seems to be Marpet moving to Center and Sweezy taking Marpet’s Guard spot. Last time Sweezy played he was ranked 27 out of 50 in run blocking and 38 in pass blocking.
I’ll let you reach our own conclusions on what to expect this coming year.
How can you look at that as “little change” ?
OK, OK, I saw you avatar
I said “only change”, not “little change”. But Little Change would still be appropriate because they only swapped out Hawley for Sweezy.
To improve on the stats I stated they need growth in D. Smith and Pamphile. Sweezy will not be better than Marpet was at Guard. Marpet is in a new position, so you have to expect a learning curve. Dotson is 31 (will be 32 in season), at this point in his career you cannot expect improvement and just pray there is not regression.
Even a blind man can see this………
The only thing Doug has proven is that he’s inconsistent as hell and can’t be trusted. Why wasn’t he in the great shape last year fresh off of signing his big contract? Fool me once, Doug…….
Always liked Doug. I’m hoping he returns to form this year and can stay healthy. The injuries have been a bitch though. They definitely need to redo his contract given injuries and the drug use. I had no problem with signing him and trying to keep him. Yes was overpaid but that’s way free agency and league works. Last year he stunk but anyone who thinks it was all him is nuts. The O line sucked bad. They were crap. Also missing weapons at WR,TE,and other RB’s. Was perfect storm for not being able to run. I think if we stay healthy this will be great year for run game and offense in general. We need to draft a bell cow RB eventually I think but I’m glad they didn’t use a high pick on it this year.
Who said he wasn’t Hate. I didn’t read one comment last year from any of the Bucs media saying Martin didn’t come into camp in shape.
Is it possible he is in better shape this year, of course it is. But that doesn’t mean he was out of shape last year.
Hate is another one who is concerned about how much money players make.
I got news for you Hate, all of the players, including the ones on the Practice Squad, probably make more than 10 times the amount you do in a year.
Hope I didn’t spoil your day.
I’m glad the Bucs kept Martin around. There have been too many times in the Bucs history that they’ve pulled the plug on a player only to watch that player become an asset somwhere else.
Mike Alstott never lead the league in rushing, receiving, yards after contact, touchdowns, or anything else but I can’t imagine Alstott playing anywhere else. It’s not always about statistics. Sometimes, it’s about loyalty.
There’s a lot of opinion as to why Doug Martin regressed following his stellar 2015 season. Perhaps they all were a factor. The one I believe was a major contributor is the fact that teams knew if they merely stacked the box to stop the run and force our young QB to pass to his one and only target (until Brate emerged) that the Bucs offense would be under control. Toss in the oft injured mediocre center in Joe Hawley and the young Kevin Panphile playing an unfamiliar guard position failing to block consistently in the middle of the line, the result was a very ineffective, Doug Martin, whose mindset just might not have been what it needed to be.
If those in the know believe he is on track then I applaud Doug Martin for it. Perhaps being humbled and embarrassed caused him to do a little self-evaluation.
Scubog teams that try and stack the line in the coming yrs. Will pay dearly for it. If JW. can find one of the many large targets we now have look out. I really hope in the beginning of games the offensive can keep the other teams defense on the field and wear them down, then the 2nd half should much easier to have the explosive play’s .
I’m a bit confused. He was using a PED but his production declined? I’d want my money back! Does anyone know what he was taking?
The rumor was Adderal
Thanks. That makes sense. I’ve read a lot of players use Adderal nowadays.
“All indications point toward Martin being a part of the Bucs’ backfield in 2017”
..about time someone said it
Readily anticipating the Dougy moonwalk jukes
Not sure how anyone that’s been a bucs fan doesn’t root for this guy. He came back from a torn labrum and put on for his city
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