A year ago, the Buccaneers could have locked up running back Doug Martin for the 2016 season by picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Doing that would have given him a 2016 salary of $5.6 million, and would have given the Buccaneers another year to negotiate with Martin on a potential extension.
Instead, the Bucs passed on that option. Big mistake.
According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers and Martin are nearing an agreement on a new contract that will pay Martin about $6.85 million a year. So the Bucs will pay more now because they didn’t believe in Martin a year ago.
You could argue that Martin played well last year in part because he knew it was a contract year, and so the Bucs lit a fire under him by declining to pick up the option. But that rationale wouldn’t make a lot of sense; if the Bucs think Martin is the kind of player who’s only motivated to play his best when it’s a contract year, they shouldn’t be giving him a long-term contract extension.
The bottom line is the Bucs thought a year ago that they’d be ready to move on from Martin. And now Martin is making them pay for that.