The Buccaneers unloaded strong safety Mark Barron, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, to in a trade with St. Louis for fourth- and sixth-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay also dealt linebacker Jonathan Casillas and the team’s sixth-round pick to New England for the Patriots’ fifth-rounder.
With the NFL Draft less than three months away, what other Buccaneers could be dealt in an effort to stockpile picks and fill the team’s many holes by rebuilding through the draft? Over the next three days, PewterReport.com will look at the top three players that could be on the trading block this spring, and started with quarterback Mike Glennon, who has started 19 games over the past two seasons. Today, PewterReport.com examines the pros and cons of trading running back Doug Martin.
Why There Is A Market For Martin
Whether you like Martin or don’t think too much of him, one thing is undeniable. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound running back made the Pro Bowl as a rookie after rushing for a Tampa Bay rookie record 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns on 319 carries (4.6 avg.), in addition to catching 49 passes for 472 yards and one touchdown in 2012. Unlike the slew of talented running backs poised to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, they have yet to log their first carry in the pros, nor have their scored their first NFL touchdown.
Aside from Martin being a proven commodity in the NFL, he comes with good credentials, as he was a first-round draft pick in 2012. Martin has yet to hit free agency and there is likely a team or two that loved him when he came out of the draft and now has the opportunity to acquire him. However, with the failed trade of former top 5 overall pick in Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round pick, most teams would be leery about surrendering a premium draft pick for another running back, especially when there is a stacked running back class in the 2015 draft.
Martin has a year left on his rookie deal with an option for one more, which has to be appealing to NFL teams due to his low salary of roughly $1.3 million. When healthy, as he was during his rookie season, Martin has proven he can carry the load, evidenced by 319 carries during the 2012 campaign.
While he does have some work to do in terms of improving as a pass protector and a receiver out of the backfield, Martin is known for having a good work ethic. He is considered to be a great teammate from a chemistry standpoint. His skill set translates into almost any offense and that makes Martin a tradable commodity.
Why The Bucs May Want To Keep Martin
When healthy and running behind a strong offensive line, Martin can be a productive running back. But is he is a special back? The current regime doesn’t think so, and that’s a big reason why Tampa Bay spent a third-round pick on Charles Sims in last year’s draft.
Despite the fact that Martin struggled mightily over the past two years with injuries and underwhelming performances, he did end the season on a high note, finally producing a 100-yard game this year in the season finale. The former Boise State star rushed for 108 yards on 19 carries (5.7 avg.) against New Orleans in Week 17.
More importantly, he rushed for 221 yards over the final three weeks and broke off some long runs – a 63-yarder against Carolina and a 45-yarder against New Orleans. Martin is still under contract in 2015 at a reasonably price, so if the team can’t get at least a middle-round pick for him there is no downside to keeping him for one more year.
Even if the Buccaneers decide to keep Martin and still draft another running back, the competition between those two, in addition to Sims and backup Bobby Rainey will only help Tampa Bay’s ground game this year. With 23 starts in the NFL, Martin brings experience to the Bucs’ backfield. Sims has yet to start a game and any rookie Tampa Bay brings into the fold is in the same situation.
What Should The Bucs Do With Martin?
Tampa Bay’s running game really struggled in 2014, and despite Martin leading the team with 494 yards and two touchdowns, it took him until the last game of the year to surpass Rainey, who only started four games, to receive that distinction. Martin struggles to make defenders miss and create on his own, and seems to be the type of back that can only be productive with clean blocking and wide-open looks. That’s what the film has shown, especially over the past two years as he had just two 100-yard games in his last 17 starts.
The fact that Martin had a strong finish to the season with nearly 200 yards rushing against Carolina and New Orleans combined – sandwiched in between a 10-carry, 17-yard (1.7 avg.) effort against Green Bay – should help up his trade value. If he can fetch anywhere between a third- to fifth-round pick, the Bucs should definitely trade Martin and use the pick to find a starter at another position or another running back to compete with Sims for the starting job in 2015. Tampa Bay could even package Martin and another pick to move up within a round to draft a starting-caliber offensive lineman, pass rusher or defensive back.
With such a deep draft at the running back position, are several interesting late-round picks, the Bucs can use a fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round pick on another rusher like Louisville’s Dominique Brown (fifth), South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner (sixth) or North Dakota State’s John Crockett (seventh) to add to the mix. Running backs always slide in the draft, and it’s possible that a player like Minnesota’s David Cobb could slip into the fourth round, or Northern Iowa’s David Johnson could even fall into the fifth, in which case those players would be steals for Tampa Bay.
Whether it’s due to the amount of carries he received in college in addition to his initial campaign in 2012, or various injuries he’s suffered, Martin is not the same back that he was as a rookie. Tampa Bay would be wise to deal Martin and move on, and take advantage of a deep draft at the running back position to find a quick-twitch back that is more elusive and has better hands.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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