Buccaneers GM Jason Licht admitted that the possibility exists that the starting running back job may not be available to Doug Martin once he’s ready to return from his suspension.
“It might not,” Licht said. “Look, he has done everything we’ve asked him to do, and he looks reminiscent of 2015 when he was playing for his contract. He looks the same out there, mentally and physically. So he might be one of those guys that needs a carrot. And he’s got a pretty big carrot in front of him right now, because there’s no guarantees that he’s going to be here. And he knows that. We’ve talked to him, and he’s good with it. He goes, ‘I understand.‘”
Lucht added that they like the idea of having a committee approach at running back.
“So we like the committee that we have for the first three games, and we’ll see what happens,” Licht said. “You never know. Somebody can kind of jump out of there.”
Martin is aware of the situation and realizes that they have a number of options at the position.
“Yeah, that’s the reality of the situation,” Martin said Sunday. “That’s what they told me. I can only control everything that I can control right now — just show up to camp, play hard and show them that I can continue to be that starting back. And when the time comes when I come back, we’ll see what happens. So it’s still in the air. It’s still in the air. I’m hopeful, and we’ll see what happens. I just show them what I’m capable of doing, and that’s 2012 Doug, that’s 2015 Doug. And if I do that, everything else will fall into place. So we’ll see.”
Martin, 28, is a former first-round pick of the Buccaneers back in 2012. He’s currently in the first year of his five-year, $35.75 million contract that includes $15 million guaranteed. Martin stands to make a base salary of $4 million for the 2016 season.
In 2016, Martin has rushed for 421 yards on 114 carries (2.9 YPC) to go along with 14 receptions for 134 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 44 running back out of 62 qualifying players.