The time for cap casualties has come and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first team to release one of the most well-known names. On Tuesday, the team announced that after six seasons in Tampa, veteran running back Doug Martin has been released.
The move saves the Buccaneers $6.75 million in cap space, and adds yet another interesting back to the free agency pool. Just two years ago, Martin signed a five-year, $35.75 million contract with the Bucs.
The Detroit Lions are one team that could be active in the free agent market. With Ameer Abdullah failing to break out as hoped, Detroit is looking for a quick fix for their running game, which has ranked dead last in two of the past three seasons.
But if you’re hoping Martin is that guy, I would preach caution. At risk of stealing Mike Payton’s “Just Say No” thunder, here are three big reasons why I think the Lions should stay far away.
At the end of the 2016 season, the NFL gave Martin a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. According to reports, Martin tested positive for Adderall. The issue was serious enough that Martin entered a rehabilitation facility during the offseason.
Martin said all of the right things coming out of rehab and hasn’t had an issue since, but if he relapses, the next suspension is for 10 games.
Additionally, Martin was a healthy scratch back in Week 15 because of a team rule violation. The violation was not drug related, but it speaks more to the risk of having Martin around.
You’d be hard pressed to find a guy in the NFL who hasn’t dealt with injuries at one point in their career, but Martin has had it especially tough. In 2013, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder, ending his season after playing in just six games. He missed five games in 2014 due to various knee and ankle issues. A hamstring injury held him out of six consecutive games in 2016, and he suffered a concussion last year.
In all, Martin has only played in more than 10 games in three of his six years in the league. Due to injuries, suspensions and healthy scratches, Martin has missed nearly 30 percent of games since entering the league in 2012.
Since signing his contract, Martin has played poorly
In 2016, Martin—sidelined by an injury for six games—finished with just 421 rushing yards and a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. While some of the blame can be placed on the offensive line, Martin’s two backups—Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber—both finished above 4.0 yards per carry.
After being humbled by his PED suspension, Martin was expected to give the 2017 Buccaneers’ running game a shot in the arm upon his Week 4 return. That didn’t end up happening. Despite playing in three more games, Martin finished with even fewer yards in 2017 (406) and the same 2.9 YPC. Again, Barber (3.9 YPC) and Rodgers (3.8 YPC) were far more efficient with the ball in their hands.
I get the excitement of having a guy like Doug Martin in free agency. The guy once ran for 1,402 yards and 4.9 yards per carry. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All-Pro just three years ago. Additionally, he has a hard-nosed running style that could fit the Lions’ needs, despite his small stature.
But at 29 years old, it certainly seems like his best days are already behind him. If the Lions are looking for someone to immediately upgrade their backfield, Martin just isn’t their guy.
Should the Lions try to sign Doug Martin?
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