One of the biggest questions heading into Monday night’s NFC South match-up between Tampa Bay and Atlanta was if Doug Martin would get the start at running back for the Buccaneers after being out-gained last week against Detroit. In a big twist, Martin was declared inactive by the Bucs for violating team rules, meaning that Peyton Barber will get his second NFL start.
Barber rushed for a career high 102 yards on 23 carries against the Packers while Martin was inactive due to a concussion. When Martin was cleared to return from concussion protocol last week against the Lions he was declared the starter and rushed for 26 yards on 10 carries (2.6 avg.) with a touchdown Barber rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries (4.8 avg.).
Martin is the Bucs’ leading rusher with 129 carries for 402 yards (3.1 avg.) with three touchdowns, while Barber has rushed for 248 yards on 65 carries (3.8 avg.) and two touchdowns this season. Martin has failed to rush for 500 yards in four of the last five seasons and he will not likely return to Tampa Bay next season.
This latest transgression, combined with sub-par production, could very well seal Martin’s fate in Tampa Bay – regardless of who the Bucs coach is in 2018 – as he is set to earn $6.75 million in base salary. Martin was suspended for four games – the final game of 2016 and the first three games of 2017 – for violating the league’s substance policy. That voided any guaranteed money that was left in his contract. Martin’s 2017 salary was reduced to $5,764,706 due to his three-game suspension.