Doug Martin may be just another memory for Buccaneers fans come Wednesday. A popular name circulating is as his replacement is Lamar Miller, but that may not be the best move heading into 2016.
With the growing sentiment that Doug Martin will not be returning to the Bucaneers in 2016 or beyond, many Bucs fans have turned their eyes to former Miami Dolphin and free agent running back Lamar Miller. He’s younger, faster, and less expensive. He’s never been the feature back so he has more mileage remaining, which should make him a steal.
Not so fast…
Miller, who will be 25 in April, has a mere 638 carries in four seasons, averaging out to 10.5 carries per game. Not exactly a great start for someone who is set to be the feature back. Yes, that allows him to be more fresh than someone like Martin, who has 868 career carries in the same span. However, if you’re bringing in a guy to be your feature back, you want them to be a little more versed than ten carries per game. That, to me, shows a lack of confidence from the previous regimes that he can’t handle a heavy workload.
According to the Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly, Miller and agent Drew Rosenhaus are seeking something in the $5 million per year range. That’s quite a bit of money for a somewhat unproven commodity, especially when you have a proven one in your own backyard. Isn’t it better to invest in a known rather than take a risk in an unknown? One would think so, however it is also unknown exactly what Martin is seeking financially. The rumor mill lists it in the $8 million per year range.
When Tampa Bay fired Lovie Smith and retained Dirk Koetter, promoting him from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach, retaining Martin seemed a foregone conclusion. “Tell Jason Licht that I want Doug Martin! Tell Jason. I’m putting my name on that. I want Doug Martin to be a Buc, so you tell him.” That was his quote immediately following his introductory press conference. In 2015, Koetter utilized Martin in wonderful fashion, helping guide Doug to the second most rush yards in the NFL and a breakout season for someone on the bubble of being called a “bust”.
Lamar Miller can’t replicate what Martin does.
Tell Jason Licht that I want Doug Martin! Tell Jason. I’m putting my name on that. I want Doug Martin to be a Buc, so you tell him.
He isn’t the powerful force Martin is in the trenches, breaking tackles and pushing 300-pound linemen that extra two, three yards for a first down. Miller is far more speed and finesse guy, which isn’t much different from what they already possess in Charles Sims. However, one thing that Miller offers that Bucs fans desperately wanted that Martin didn’t possess was breakaway speed. We witnessed multiple times Martin bust through the line and be in the open field just to be caught from behind, preventing a touchdown. Should the Bucs’ offensive line open up those same kinds of holes in 2016 that they did this season, there could be quite a few plays like this;
All that considered, it just seems too risky to invest that kind of money and years, years in which the Bucs must capitalize on Jameis Winston’s favorable rookie contract, on a guy who “might” be an every down back. Having a backfield of Miller and Sims is basically like having two of the same guy. There’s no contrast in playing styles or skill sets. That being said, compared to many of the backs hitting the open market, Miller is one of the more attractive options.
Just not as an every down guy for the Bucs.