Buccaneers GM Jason Licht and impending free agent RB Doug Martin acknowledged that they’ve have begun the process of discussing a long-term contract extension.
“We’ve already talked a little bit,’’ Licht said, via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune. “We will definitely be talking (more). We’d love to have Doug back.’’
Martin added that he loves playing in Tampa Bay and would like to return for the 2016 season.
“I love it here and I have a beautiful home here,’’ Martin said. “I’d love to come back. But right now I’m focused on our last game. I’m aware they’re talking, but I’ll let them handle that for now.’’
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Buccaneers will try to get a long-term agreement in place before the start of free agency.
Buccaneers HC Lovie Smith previously told reporters on that they view re-signing Martin to as being a priority for them this offseason.
“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 indicated 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 1,354 yards on 273 carries (5 YPC) to go along with 26 receptions for 211 yards receiving and six total touchdowns over the course of 15 games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 1 running back out of 67 qualifying players.
We have Martin listed as the No. 19 player in our Top 25 – 2016 Free Agents list.