The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken one of the top free agents off the market before it’s set to open Wednesday afternoon.
According to multiple media reports, the team has re-signed running back Doug Martin to a five-year contract worth north of $35 million:
Buccaneers and RB Doug Martin reached agreement on five-year deal worth over $35 million, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2016
It’s a surprising move for both the player and the team. This marriage seemed ready to come to an end after Tampa Bay didn’t place the franchise tag on Martin earlier this month. At that point, Martin seemed prepared to move on to greener pastures after finishing the 2015 season as the league’s second-leading rusher.
In between the time the franchise tag wasn’t place on Martin and the reports of him re-signing on Wednesday, something had to happen behind the scenes.
The end result here being Martin’s return to a talented young team in Tampa Bay.
Martin, 27, jumped on to the scene with a tremendous rookie season for the Buccaneers back in 2012. The former first-round pick put up over 1,900 total yards and 12 touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl appearance.
However, the Boise State product followed that up with two substandard seasons, putting up less than 1,000 combined rushing yards in 2013 and 2014.
Sensing that his window to cash in was closing, Martin returned to earlier form during a contract year in 2015. He tallied over 1,400 rushing yards while putting up a career-best 4.9 yards per attempt.
With the reported $7 million annual salary, Martin becomes the sixth highest-paid running back in the NFL.