The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced the release of running back Doug Martin. Martin, 29, was a first round draft pick in 2012 and has spent his entire NFL career with the Buccaneers, becoming a two-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro running back in 2015. Martin, who signed a five-year, $35.75 million deal in 2016, and was thus contracted to remain with the team till 2020, will now become a free agent, while the Buccaneers will clear nearly $7 million in salary cap space.
Martin has endured a streaky career, rushing for over 1,400 yards in both 2012 and 2015, while rushing for less than 500 in other years and a career low of 406 on 138 carries in 2017. He was benched in favor of sophomore Peyton Barber during the last three games of the season.
In addition to his inconsistent play, Martin tested positive in 2016 for Adderall, a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He served a four-game suspension as a result and subsequently checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. The violation also invalidated the $15 million guarantee in his contract, meaning the Buccaneers could release him without any financial obligations.
The handwriting has seemed, for a while, to be on the wall, with Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht blaming the team’s struggles running the ball on Martin’s underwhelming play post-suspension.
“Obviously Doug had a down season by his standards and by our standards,” Licht said. The team ranked 27th in the league last season in rushing yards.
Martin released a statement on Instagram thanking the owners, general manager, coaches, players and fans of the Buccaneers organization, while also revealing that he was unhappy about the decision, but respectful of it.
“I am in the best shape of my life physically and mentally and my best football is ahead of me,” he said.
He leaves the team as the franchise record-holder for most rushing yards in a single game, with 251 against the Oakland Raiders in his rookie season, while also ranking fourth in rushing yards in team history with 4,633.