Just ten months ago, Martin was riding high after re-signing with the Bucs on a five-year, $35.75 million dollar deal mere hours before the start of free agency. Once the lights went on for the 2016 regular season, however, it appeared the fifth-year pro was on a constant downhill slide. A hamstring injury in Week 2 knocked him out for the ensuing six contests, and he struggled upon getting back on the field. The 27-year-old notably averaged less than three yards per carry in five of the six games he played upon returning, with a season-high 87-yard performance against the Seahawks serving as the only exception during that stretch. Although Martin appeared to run decisively for the most part in 2016, there were some rumblings about him exhibiting poor vision and not exploiting available running lanes at times. Backfield mate Jacquizz Rodgers' solid performances behind essentially the same offensive line likely lent further credence to that theory, and with Martin's season ending under the spectre of a PED suspension, his future in Tampa is in doubt until further notice, an inconceivable notion heading into this past season.
The Bucs inked Martin to a five-year, $35.75 million dollar contract in the offseason that included $15 million in guaranteed money, but the agreement included a clause that the 2017 guarantee could be voided in its entirety in the event of "PED violations, substances of abuse and engaging in conduct detrimental to the team," according to Laine's report. While Martin's future with the team is far from decided at this point, the provision represents an escape hatch that's certainly worth being aware of with respect to the fifth-year pro's future prospects in Tampa. Further complicating matters is the fact that journeyman Jacquizz Rodgers has unexpectedly emerged as a viable alternative in the backfield this season, and could potentially be secured for a reasonable investment following the expiration of his current one-year, $760,000 deal. Rodgers has gained 485 yards at 4.3 yards per tote in 2016, and will have a final chance to demonstrate his wares as the clear-cut lead back against the Panthers in Week 17. Meanwhile, Martin's situation will be one to monitor heading into the offseason, with a successful completion of the treatment program he has entered representing the first step to further clarity, and hopefully, an eventual recovery.
Martin is leaving the Buccaneers in order to enter a treatment facility, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "I was notified last week of a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy," Martin wrote in a statement. "I am starting the suspension immediately so I can enter a treatment facility and receive the help I truly need."
In particular, Martin violated the NFL's policy regarding performance-enhancing substances, precipitating a suspension that will begin this Sunday and extend into next season. Under the rare circumstance that the Bucs earn a playoff berth, the ban will account for those contests. However, he'll more than likely miss the first three games of the 2017 campaign. Considering his bulky salary, he'll likely be handed the No. 1 gig at running back upon his return, but Charles Sims and potentially Jacquizz Rodgers, an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, will cover for Martin during his absence.
On both a professional and now a personal level, Martin has turned in an undesirable season rife with ineffectiveness on the ground. Some of the lack of success may be the result of a hamstring injury that forced six absences earlier in the campaign. However, his surprise DNP on Saturday wasn't the result of an injury, so something else in his life was to blame for the downgrade. While neither the Bucs nor Martin is obligated to touch on the nature of his "personal issues," the running back is an unlikely candidate to be jettisoned due to the five-year, $35.75 million deal he inked in the offseason. In the meantime, the backfield will be powered by Jacquizz Rodgers in Week 17 due to Charles Sims' (pectoral) placement on injured reserve Wednesday.
Martin was an excused absentee from Wednesday's practice, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Coming off Martin's benching Saturday, head coach Dirk Koetter has already said the running back won't play in the regular season finale. Martin's DNPs to wrap up the season could be a sign the Bucs intend to move on in the offseason, but in the meantime, Jacquizz Rodgers is primed to serve as the No. 1 RB, with Charles Sims handling pass-catching duties.
|2012||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||319||1454||4.6||70||11||11||58|
|2013||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||6||127||456||3.6||28||1||2||16|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||11||134||494||3.7||63||2||2||23|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||288||1402||4.9||84||6||14||61|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||8||144||421||2.9||17||3||0||23|
|2012||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||49||472||9.6||64||1||4||3||18|
|2013||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||6||12||66||5.5||13||0||0||0||1|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||11||13||64||4.9||20||0||1||0||3|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||33||271||8.2||25||1||2||0||10|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||8||14||134||9.6||27||0||2||0||4|
|2012||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2013||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||1||40||40.0||40||0||1|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2012||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2013||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||3||3.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2012||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||1||1||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|2013||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||2||1||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||5||5||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||1||1||0||1||0||-2||1||0|
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