RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Getty Images
Let’s face it. Bucs running back Doug Martin let his team down in 2016.
Not because of an injury, but because of the demons he was fighting that led to him being suspended for the final game last season (and the first three of 2017). While nothing is confirmed, many have assumed that his substance issue was a season long – perhaps even longer – issue, that contributed to a poor 2016 campaign.
The entire organization could have easily turned their back on Martin. But that hasn’t been the case.
In fact, it has been quite the opposite.
First, the team didn’t draft a running back until the fifth round last month. Nor have they released Martin.
The lack of action speaks loudly about what the plans for the upcoming season are. And that is, barring any relapse, Martin will be a Buccaneer this year and possibly for the next few seasons.
But it isn’t just management that is supporting Martin. Bucs’ players have also been complimentary of their teammate and friend.
On Wednesday, star linebacker Lavonte David threw his full support behind his 2012 drat classmate.
LB Lavonte David – Photo By: Mark Cook/PR
“It was great (seeing Martin for the first time this year),” David said. “I was working out here this offseason, and Doug came and as soon as he saw me he ran up to me and gave me a hug. Me, Doug and (Keith) Tandy are the only three left from the 2012 draft class. So we kind of take that to heart and try to have each other’s back. And we are all pulling for Doug. To see him come back, in great shape, smiling and happy, we knew there were no worries. There were no questions thrown out or nothing like that. We know he is back to himself and know he is ready for this upcoming season.”
Defensive end Robert Ayers also spoke of Doug Martin on Wednesday and thinks Martin is in for a special season.
We’ve got Doug [Martin], who I think is going to be a monster,” Ayers said. “People have been talking junk about him like he didn’t just run for, what, 1,500, 1,600 yards two years ago? Second-leading rusher [in the NFL] and people are talking junk about him like he didn’t just do that two years ago. People were saying we were going to draft a running back and I was like, ‘You’re crazy.'”
Even quarterback Jameis Winston had great things to say about Martin on a recent interview on 620 WDAE.
“One name that’s gonna shock…Doug Martin,” Winston said. “He, he looks incredible. The way that he’s bursting, putting his foot in the ground and just being so explosive. I wasn’t really surprised because he is so, he’s a very hard worker. But to see the energy he has been bringing out there to work out day to day has been amazing. It really shows his resilience and how well he has prepared this off-season.”
The Bucs gambled that Martin’s troubles are behind him as they passed on a number of talented running backs including Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and others, but they did protect themselves somewhat by re-signing Jacquizz Rodgers in the offseason, and also drafting running back Jeremy McNichols in the April draft.
Only time will tell if they made the right decision, but if you ask the organization and Martin’s teammates, so far, so good.
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 email@example.com
We all want the best for Doug and hope it is past him forever. Go Bucs!
They made the right decision if he stays healthy. That’s my only concern. I think the other stuff is behind him. He got caught and suspended and likely won’t be an issue again.
Agreed fredster. he’s had more than 1 subpar season due to injuries- not so much worried about the substance abuse from here on
Doug still has the locker room.
Losing him could’ve caused an issue and that is something Licht just cannot afford.
They have done an extraordinary job building and keeping the chemistry.
All that family stuff they were focusing on last year really built up the comradity, can’t lose that. Low risk, High reward.
I am thrilled he is going to be on the Team. Great player, If he is healthy and he has the monkey off his back, he is going to have a great year.
I’m really glad it’s all played out this way. It wasn’t long ago that PR was more or less reporting that Doug was a dead man walking at One Buc. Glad this was one of the rare times you guys missed on a report like that. Good piece, Mark. I like the quotes from different players. You’ve got a well supported conclusion here. Thanks.
I had a girl friend once who swore she loved me, and I believe she really did. Then one day she told me someone else came along, and she didn’t love me so much anymore. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Doug will be gone for three weeks starting the season. He will be missed I’m sure, unless another man comes along, and takes his place.
I don’t believe that surferdudes. Can you prove that you had a girlfriend once? lol
The thing that I like about this is that his teammates have his back. For the Bucs to improve on last year, make the playoffs and more importantly grow as a perennial contender in this league, you need that team chemistry. A little bit of a chip on your shoulder stemming from the non-believers can help launch the individual and the team as well. Here’s wishing Doug well and hopefully we’ll have loads of success running the ball out of DMart, Quizz, Sims, Barber and McNichols.
You can’t talk about a team having a family atmosphere and culture and then kick a member out because he has a substance abuse problem.
Doing so would be the height of hypocrisy that only our current President has seems to get away with so far.
Players would have seen that for what it was and team morale would have plummeted.
They understand about business decisions, but kicking a family member when he is down would have sent the wrong message.
Beside, I believe Licht has seen what other Buc players have gone on and done when they were let go for every day issues and he didn’t want to revisit the past and succumb to the whining voices of the local sports media who want every player to behave like a boy scout.
Oh all is not forgiven. When it comes to money Doug will pay for his lack of effort in the 2016 seasons; afterall the Owners weren’t responsible for Doug’s behavior. My guess is his contract will be null & void and he will have the opportunity to sign a one year contract with the Bucs or another team after he serves his 3 game suspension. That is one heck of a lot of cap money which would be available then.
His contract was voidable without a cap charge after this season anyway Horse. It was a 5 year deal, with 2 guaranteed, unless he triggered a clause for behavior, in which case the contract is immediately voidable. Doug Martin will be a Buc and a big part of the Bucs future. He can’t change the past and I seriously doubt he will be expected to pay it forward with a reduced contract.
I am a huge Douig Martin fan and I was really happy when he signed a new agreement last year. I wish Doug would have had a better season last year, and I’m sure he does too, but Doug’s best years are ahead of him, not behind him. Glad the team is rallying around him!
Of course I concur BucWild02.
I still find it hilarious that the only problem some people have with Martin staying on the team is because of the money he is set to make.
Tom Krasnizky, who I enjoy listening to and respect, on the WDAE morning show is also one of those people.
As I asked him, why are you so concerned with what billionaires are playing millionaires.
He really didn’t have much of an answer.
The fact of the matter is the Bucs still have plenty of cap space and with FA pretty much over, they are still going to be way under the cap so the thought that money is needed to sign other players is a canard.
Right now Doug Martin is just like any other player contending for a roster spot. What he did in the past, both on or off the field, is moot. His former contract is moot. What is going to matter is what he shows between now and the final whistle of game 3. Unless something happens to cause the team to release him or he gets injured; that’s when the team will determine his fate. Everyone should want him to succeed. It’s just stupid to actually want someone of importance to the team to fail.
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