Doug Martin has re-established himself as the Buccaneers' primary running back after totaling 1,673 total yards and seven touchdowns in 2015. Martin managed to stay healthy after refocusing on football following two down years, and it paid off with great results and a nice new contract. There is no reason to believe the Bucs will drastically change their offensive philosophy -- in fact, the Bucs have improved their O-line and kept their play-caller from last year by elevating Dirk Koetter to head coach. Charles Sims is still on the team and he'll swipe some touches from Martin, but that didn't stop Dougie from landing 288 carries and 33 catches last season. The bottom line is that when Martin has been healthy, his numbers have been great. Otherwise, he's been a total disappointment. With better off-field habits helping Martin last season, assume he's dedicated to his craft. Martin will get picked in Round 2 in all drafts this summer, and backing him up with Sims in Round 9 or later is a very smart idea.
Martin was active in the passing game during Thursday's OTA session, Joe Kania of the team's official site reports. The 27-year-old, who's recorded a combined 82 receptions over the two seasons in his career where he's played all 16 games, was targeted often in the passing game during Thursday's open session. The development was notable considering that Martin played a distant second receiving option last season out of the backfield to teammate Charles Sims, who hauled in 70 receptions for 561 yards and four touchdowns. Despite the increased usage through the air, Martin's primary usage in the coming season will once again be on the ground, where he amassed 1,402 yards last season. Still, the added dimension of an increased passing game role for Martin would certainly give second-year quarterback Jameis Winston another valuable weapon to work with in 2016.
Martin feels like he can "hit the ground running" in 2016 under new head coach and former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Scott Smith of the Bucs official site reports. The four-year veteran is excited about the fact that he'll continue working within the same system that helped him produce his best season since his spectacular 2012 rookie campaign. Martin ran for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns in 2015, while averaging a career-best 4.9 yards per tote. "I've been through about two to three new playbooks [in my career], so it feels good to come in and not have to learn a whole new playbook and it's good to have that continuity," said Martin. "If you get a new guy and he has a whole new playbook, it's like learning a whole new language, so it's a good feeling to come here and not learn a whole new playbook. It's easy on everybody else." The 27-year-old was targeted by Koetter as a key piece of the offense upon the latter's appointment to the role of offensive coordinator before the 2015 season, and that motivated Martin to work his way into top condition for the 16-game grind. Fresh off signing a new five-year deal worth in excess of $35 million, the Pro Bowl-running back has set even loftier standards for the coming season. "I just have to set goals for myself and if I set high goals, if I shoot high, then the rest will fall into place," said Martin. "I have to have a burning desire and know what I want and if I do that and just work hard and do my job, everything else will fall into place. I would like to just get more yards than I had last year - than my rookie year. More touchdowns, I'll be able to finish more, finish more often. I get caught around the five you know, finish and get more touchdowns. But just goals like that - just adding to my game."
The Bucs have signed Martin to a five-year deal worth in excess of $35 million, Ian Rappaport of NFL.com reports. The signing comes two hours shy of Martin hitting the open market as a 26-year-old tailback coming off a 1,400-yard season, preventing Tampa from having to scour free agency or invest a high draft pick on a new tailback. As per Rappaport, the deal contains $15 million in guaranteed money, and averages $7.25 million over the first three seasons, with a maximum overall value of $42.5 million. Although the courtship between Martin and the Bucs looked somewhat shaky at times this offseason, Martin ultimately made good on his previously-stated preference to remain in Tampa, and secured a contract that would have been highly improbable a year ago at this time. His retention preserves a potentially potent young nucleus of Jameis Winston, Charles Sims, Mike Evans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Martin, and frees the Bucs up to address other needs in the coming days and the forthcoming draft.
As expected, the Bucs opted not to use their franchise tag on free agent running back Doug Martin, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports. The non-move fulfills the widely-held expectation that Martin will only return to Tampa on a mutually agreeable multi-year deal, as opposed to the onerous $11.789 million salary for 2016 that the franchise designation would have carried. Cummings reports that the Bucs continue to work towards cementing a deal with fifth-year pro, ideally before free agency opens in earnest on March 9. If Martin does indeed land elsewhere, third-year all-purpose back Charles Sims and a 2016 draft pick or free-agent signee would figure to share tailback duties in Tampa in 2016.
Martin is increasingly likely to sign a free-agent deal with another club according to sources close to his negotiations with the Bucs on a new contract, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports. The report comes on the heels of Jason Licht's proclamation in his Wednesday Combine press conference that he was "optimistic" that a deal that would keep Martin in Tampa would eventually get done. With more than two weeks to go since the official start of the free agency signing period on March 9, there is certainly plenty of time for the consumation of an agreement. However, Cummings' sources indicate that "based on the current pace and direction of the talks, Martin is more likely to sign a deal with one of a handful of Bucs rivals". The same sources did not indicate any snag in negotiations however, and there was no concrete indication otherwise coming out of Licht's talks with Martin's agent Brian Murphy on Wednesday. Although they have the franchise tag at their disposal, Cummings reports that applying it to Martin would cost the Bucs approximately $11.5 million for 2016, a hit they have indicated they do not plan on absorbing.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/25||Los Angeles Rams||23||18.50|
|7||10/23||@San Francisco 49ers||32||22.88|
|11||11/20||@Kansas City Chiefs||4||13.44|
|13||12/04||@San Diego Chargers||30||21.50|
|14||12/11||New Orleans Saints||31||22.38|
|16||12/24||@New Orleans Saints||31||22.38|
|3 Year Avg||183||784||3||19||134||0||109|