It appeared the second half of last season that the Bucs and made up their mind to “move on” from former feature running back Doug Martin. On Tuesday morning, they went ahead and made it official, releasing the six year veteran running back.
The team confirmed the move on social media:
The Buccaneers have released RB Doug Martin
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) February 20, 2018
Martin was drafted in the first round out of Boise State in 2012 and had a spectacular rookie season that included him breaking the Bucs single game rushing record against the Oakland Raiders with 251 yards in a 42-32 win.
After being named to the Pro Bowl that rookie year with 1,926 yards from scrimmage and having great expectation for his career, Martin struggled to get anything going in year two, and eventually suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in a game against Atlanta in October of that year.
With new head coach Lovie Smith at the helm, Martin battled ankle and knee sprain issues in 2014 and had another ineffective season. However, when new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter showed up in 2015, Martin had a spectacular year rushing for 1,402 yards, which was good enough for second in the NFL that year. And he was back in the Pro Bowl that year.
Unfortunately, with Koetter elevated to head coach, a similar pattern emerged again, as Martin suffered a hamstring injury in game two of his 2016 season, and ended up missing most of or all of seven games before returning. When he did return, Martin was then suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the performance enhancing drugs policy.
He sat out the final game of the 2016 season and there had been great speculation that the Buccaneers might go ahead and release him before the 2017 season. This was because he was going to have to serve the final three games of the suspension that season, as well.
Martin looked fit and in shape in August for Bucs camp, and the team did hold on to him. He went ahead and sat the first three games, but was largely ineffective again after that.
That’s when the Buccaneers made it apparent they were likely going to move on from Martin. They utilized second year undrafted running back Peyton Barber much more including starting him in the final two games of 2017.
Martin thanked the Glazer family, Bucs GM Jason Licht, and the fans, etc. in an Instagram post on Tuesday afternoon:
Releasing Martin saves the Buccaneers his $6.75 millon in 2018 non-guaranteed salary. That money does however, count as “dead money” for the salary cap this season.
Tuesday’s move also almost assures that Tampa Bay will either try to make a big splash with a running back in free agency, and/or very early in the upcoming NFL draft.
The Buccaneers currently have the 7th overall pick.
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