The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot to look forward to after the 2015 NFL season. One of these things is Doug Martin playing like he’s never been injured and once again being one of the most productive running backs in the league, which leads to not the question of will they try to re-sign him, but for how much?
The DeMarco Murray $40 million contract stands out as a bad investment in a running back, but this might have been the first season to suggest teams need a good running game in order to succeed, even if the NFL is a passing league and will never return to the days of quarterbacks just being ushers on the field. Adrian Peterson isn’t a good comparison, and Marshawn Lynch isn’t one either. So how much can Martin make?
Local reporters are suggesting something along the lines of $25 million over the next four years, maybe even $30 million, sounds reasonable, which would make Martin one of the top six or seven highest paid backs in the NFL. Of the top 10 highest paid running backs in the NFL, only Matt Forte is becoming a free agent, which means there might not be too much competition from other players, making Martin a very pricey commodity, although as a restricted free agent teams are always wary because of the draft pick involved.
Martin made a nice comeback this season. He exploded onto the scene by rushing for over 1400 yards in 2012, his rookie year, followed by two seasons in which he played just 17 games, rushing for just 960 yards. The 2015 season was a career defining moment for him which he aced, getting plenty of touches from Lovie Smith (288 carries), rushing for 1402 yards and six touchdowns, finishing with 1673 yards from scrimmage, staying healthy for the entire season.
Whether or not it means a decline is coming because of the high usage is for the Buccaneers and people working with graphs to figure out. Martin did his part of the bargain and will find someone willing to give him a long term deal. It might not be for the kind of money Murray signed with the Eagles last season, but for a player who looked like he might be chucked out of the league pretty soon, Martin reclaimed his place among the league’s best running backs.