Not so fast, Doug Martin might remain with the Buccaneers.
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No matter what, neither the Buccaneers nor any other team will open the 2017 season with Doug Martin on the field. Martin must serve the remaining three of his four game drug suspension that began in week 17 of last season. So we know he will be on the sidelines, somewhere.
The question is where? The assumption has been that it will not be with Tampa, due to the fact that the suspension voided his guaranteed money, combined with his injury woes. Most of us have assumed that the Bucs would deem Martin not worth it anymore and direct the running game elsewhere.
Well, maybe that isn’t the case after all. According to Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders, the team is planning on sitting on this decision as long as they can, and haven’t given up the thought of keeping Martin around.
"The word from inside One Buc Place is that the Bucs intend to play the Martin situation out and see where things stand with the beleaguered back when the time comes for the Bucs to reassemble again this spring.Even then the Bucs may not be ready to make a long-term call on Martin, in part because they really don’t have to make any kind of a call on Martin until after Week 3 of the 2017 regular season."
He’s right, they really don’t have to make the decision until the suspension runs out. They could play this out for quite some time.
The logic does make sense. Other than Martin, the Bucs do not have a running back on the roster that has ever carried the load at the NFL level for an extended period of time. Charles Sims has never been more than a change of pace. Jacquizz Rodgers showed signs but it wasn’t long enough to have complete confidence. Drafting someone won’t change that either.
In spite of all that, however, there are still enough reasons to let him go, as I talked about previously. For one, Martin has simply spent too much time on the sidelines with injuries. He has been one of the best in the game when he has been healthy. The trouble is, that has not been the majority of the time. He has had two great seasons and three marred seasons. Trusting the running game to the “Muscle Hamster” is not the safe bet we all thought it might be.
Secondly, our latest taste of Martin was not good, even before he suffered his 2016 injury. In the first two weeks of 2016, coming off of his great 2015, he ran the ball 25 times for 85 yards, a whopping 3.4 yards per carry. That was on its way to the lowest figure of his career, and it only dipped from there when he returned as he finished 2016 with a 2.9 yards per carry average.
Doug Martin is not the runner we thought he was, and that is why, despite the running back scenario, he still needs to go.