The Buccaneers released Martin on Tuesday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. After following up a strong rookie year in 2012 with back-to-back disappointing seasons, Martin temporarily quieted his critics by amassing 1,673 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in 2015, netting him a five-year, $35.75 million contract extension the following spring. However, Martin regressed badly thereafter, averaging less than three yards per carry in both of the past two seasons while missing time due to injury and an untimely four-game suspension, which delayed the start to his 2017 campaign. In cutting Martin loose, the Buccaneers will save $6.75 million against the cap in 2018 while taking on no dead money due to the structure of the contract. Martin's departure currently leaves Peyton Barber as the top candidate to start at running back in 2018, though there's a decent possibility the Buccaneers address the position through the draft or free agency in the coming months.
Martin rushed three times for minus-3 yards in Sunday's 31-24 win over the Saints. In what was perhaps a fitting end to both his 2017 season and Tampa tenure, Martin was in on just four snaps while ceding lead-back duties to Peyton Barber once again. The 28-year-old wrapped up the campaign with single-digit rushing yards in each of his last two games and no more than 51 yards in the last seven contests overall. Martin is on the books for $6.75 million in 2018, but per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, he can be cut without any cap penalty. With Barber seemingly proving he's worthy of at least entering OTAs atop the depth chart and the Bucs also likely to add to the running back position in next April's draft, Martin could well find himself on the outs in the coming months.
Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said following Monday's 24-21 loss to the Falcons that Martin was inactive for the contest due to an unspecified violation of team rules, RIck Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "It's done. That's just one of those things that unfortunately has to happen from time to time," Koetter said, regarding Martin being made a healthy scratch. "It's behind us now, and that's all I'm going to say about it." After missing one game while recovering from a concussion, Martin drew the start at running back in the Week 14 loss to the Lions, but played just 19 snaps before being benched after fumbling. It was suspected that Martin's inactive status Monday was related to his struggles in recent weeks, but it sounds like an off-field transgression had more to do with it. Though Koetter's comments suggest that Martin won't be subject to further discipline from the team, it seems rather unlikely that the 2012 first-round pick will regain his starting gig over the final two games, especially given how effective Peyton Barber has been in recent weeks. Barber has averaged more than four yards per carry in each of the last three games, while Martin has a putrid 2.8 YPC mark over his last eight appearances.
Martin (coach's decision) is inactive for Monday's game versus the Falcons, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. About an hour before the release of inactives, Adam Schefter of ESPN leaked that Martin would be superseded as the starter in favor of Peyton Barber. In a surprising turn on events, though, Martin is a healthy scratch due to a violation of team rules, according to ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. With Martin sidelined, Barber will lead the way out of the Buccaneers backfield, while Charles Sims handles pass-catching reps and Jacquizz Rodgers serves in a change-of-pace role.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Buccaneers are expected to start Peyton Barber at running back, relegating Martin to a backup role. During Martin's absence in Week 13 with a concussion, Barber impressed as both a runner and pass catcher, racking up 102 yards on the ground and 41 more through the air. Last weekend versus the Lions, Martin started but didn't see the field after a fumble late in the second quarter. Barber proceeded to outproduce Martin, 63 to 50, in scrimmage yards. With Barber leading the way again Monday, it remains to be seen what kind of workload, if any, Martin receives.
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