The Tampa Bay Buccaneers locked up running back Doug Martin to a five-year, $35 million deal last spring. The idea was for him to be a running partner for young signal caller Jameis Winston.
A lot has happened since, including a four-game suspension Martin was slapped with for his use of PED’s. According to Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter, it looks like Martin’s status for the 2017 season remains up in the air.
“Well, we have deep group of running backs. I mean, mainly due to injury last year we had to play a lot of guys. Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Peyton Barber are all guys who played for us last year. Then, we drafted Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round out of Boise State. So, we will be going somewhat with a running back by committee,” the head coach said, via Joe Bucs Fan. “And then it is still yet to be determined what is going to happen at the end of Doug’s suspension. But Doug has sure done a good job up to this point with our offseason program.”
Martin, who served one game of his suspension late last season, will miss the first three games of the 2017 campaign.
The 28-year-old running back landed his lucrative contract after producing 1,402 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2015. Unfortunately, he failed to meet expectations in 2016, putting up only 421 rushing yards in eight games. He also averaged only 2.9 yards per carry.
Martin’s suspension erases his guaranteed 2017 salary. So, the team could easily wash their hands of Martin and not suffer a cap hit by releasing him. It was just last December that the Bucs and Martin seemed to be on the outs towards the tail end of the season.
He will certainly have to earn his keep during the summer months leading up to the season. Clearly, the Bucs are loaded at the position and fully prepared to play without him to kick off the regular season.