The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released running back Doug Martin, according to multiple reports, with Rick Stroud of Tampa Bay Times on the news first. Martin, 29, was a first-round pick in 2012 and is immediately one of the more interesting names in the running back free agent market.
That market also includes current San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, so the position is of some concern for those of us around here. Releasing Martin, who has battled injuries as well as up-and-down play over the years, frees up $6.75 million in cap space for the Buccaneers.
Martin had 1,454 yards rushing as a rookie, to go with 11 touchdowns and 472 receiving yards. He was incredible, but immediately dealt with injuries that caused him to miss 10 games in 2013 and five in 2014. In 2015, when the Buccaneers neglected to pick up his fifth-year option on his contract, he rushed for 1,400-plus yards once again, and earned a new deal from the team that drafted him.
Then he missed time with more injuries, and a suspension for performance-enhancing substances. Last season, he played in 11 games with 138 carries for 406 yards and three touchdowns. His per-carry average was just 2.9 yards, same as it was in 2016. There are definitely two different Martins: good Martin and bad Martin.
It will be interesting to see if good Martin is enough to entice teams to give him anything more than a one-year “prove-it” deal on the open market. If the 49ers let Hyde go elsewhere and feel confident in Matt Breida, Martin may be the kind of “boom or bust” pick-up they’d like, but of course, it would have to be at the right price.
Either way, the running back market has a new name.