Buccaneers HC Lovie Smith told reporters on Monday that they view re-signing RB Doug Martin to a contract extension as being a priority.
“Is Doug Martin a priority? I can say that yes, he definitely is,” Smith said Monday, via the Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “And I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all to go into the fifth year.”
The Buccaneers opted not to exercise his fifth-year option back in May, which Smith seems to think may have been a benefit for Martin in the end.
“I think it’s benefited Doug as much as anything. He’s in a great position now. I don’t think Doug came into the season thinking, hey, he wasn’t wanted around here. I think it was the complete opposite of that. And we have acknowledged everything he’s done along the way, and we’ve put him in a position to have the type of year he’s having right now. I think it’s all good. And if I’m Doug Martin, I’m pretty happy I didn’t sign the contract I had before, and I like the position I’m in now.”
Martin, 26, is in the final year of his four-year, $6,787,528 rookie contract, which included $5.472 million guaranteed. He stands to make a base salary of $1,315,572 for the 2015 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent next year.
This season, Martin had ran for 941 yards on 188 carries (5 YPC) to go along with 21 receptions for 188 yards receiving and five total touchdowns over the course of six games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 1 running back out of 68 qualifying players.
We have Martin featured in our Top 25 – 2016 NFL Free Agents list.