After six roller coaster season is in Tampa, Doug Martin has been told to empty his locker and look for a new team.
Before I look back at his career in Tampa, I started following the Bucs in 2012 which was the same year as Martin was drafted by the Bucs in the first round. Being a child of the 80’s, I loved nothing more in the NFL than the sight of a Running Back bursting through Defences on a long run.
So, understandably, Martin became one of my favourite Buccaneers players as during his sensational rookie season he cut and juked his way through Defences as he ran up 11 touchdowns and stopped just shy of 1500 rushing yards. A season full of highs with the pick of the bunch being his four touchdown performance in Oakland against the Raiders in which he racked up an eye-watering 251 yards on the ground against the Oakland Raiders. It was performances like these which resulted in Martin becoming a Pro-Bowler in his rookie season as he quickly became a favourite in Tampa.
Much was expected of the Doug-ernaught but an injury ravaged 2013 and 2014 resulted in Martin being a shadow of his former self by the time his fourth season came round. After an injury free pre-season and looking sharp in practice Martin again rediscovered his form as he rushed for over 1400 yards although his touchdown tally was just over 50% of his rookie season. The highlight of this season was his performance in Philadelphia as he ran the Eagles’ Defense ragged for a total of 235 yards but bizarrely no touchdowns.
The Boise State product was then rewarded with his two golden seasons by being handed a lucrative multi-year $7 million dollar a year contract and all looked good for the foreseeable future for the Bucs with their franchise Running Back signed up for the long term.
The jury was still out on whether Martin was the 1000 plus yard performer as per the 2012 & 2015 seasons or was he the out of sorts injury plagued back who struggled between 2013 & 2014. Unfortunately, the injuries came back to plague Martin during the 2016 season and that frustration along with the big contract ultimately resulted in his demise as a hamstring injury in the second game of the season kept him out for 6 weeks and when he did return in the second half of the season he was a shadow of his former self as he ended the season with an average carry of 2.9 yards, a paltry three rushing touchdowns and, for the third year out of four, a rushing total of less than 500 yards.
Even more worrying than his loss of form was his four match ban handed out after the penultimate game of the 2016 season for substance abuse. A clause in Martin’s lucrative contract meant that the Bucs could cut the Running Back without penalty due to the banned substance but believing that Martin would again return rejuvenated, Bucs General Manager and Head Coach decided to roll with Martin for the 2017 season despite the fact that he would miss the first three games.
Unfortunately, 2017 ended up being almost a carbon copy of his previous season as he again finished the season with less than 500 yards rushing, only three touchdowns and even had the ignomy of being banned from one game for violating team rules which meant the end of the road for the one time favourite.
Rushing for less than 500 yards in four out of the last five seasons, $7 million dollars a year can be much better spent in today’s NFL and it’s over and out for the two-time Pro-Bowler.
At 29 years old, the ex-Buccaneer should still have a future in the NFL ahead of him and despite how his time in Tampa ended, I wish Martin all the best wherever he ends up plying his trade.
Farewell number 22.
Image courtesy Buccaneers.com