Bucs erred by not picking up Doug Martin’s fifth-year option


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.

25 responses to “Bucs erred by not picking up Doug Martin’s fifth-year option

  1. And Charles Johnson probably saw what a train wreck this franchise is and said, “I may as well take a small bag of peanuts to stay in Carolina instead of going somewhere that is 10 years away from getting anywhere near a ring.”

  2. As a Bucs fan, it was the right move, he’s only had two good seasons out of 4, granted he’s had a crappy o-line to run behind most of his career, but still, he is injury prone and doesn’t have break-away speed, he’s good between the tackles but most LBs can catch him from behind. He’s a $6 mil a year back, nothing more, if he plays hardball let him walk, Elliot will be there waiting to be picked in the number 9 spot of the draft.

  3. What’s the tag number for a RB this year? Wouldn’t that have been an option if they wanted to keep him around but weren’t ready to commit to him long term? I don’t recall the Bucs using the tag on anyone else.

  4. According to THIS website in 2014 he was on the trade block. Why would a team pick up a fifth year option on a player who they were trying to trade 6-8 weeks into the season? Yeah in hindsight they will lose about 2 million but isn’t that better than losing 5 million if they botched it?

  5. And if Martin got hurt in 2015, the Bucs would have been on the hook for $5 mill. For a team with plenty of cap room, the extra million is far less of a concern knowing you have a healthy RB for the next season.

  6. Maybe the Bucs may have seen this as no big deal if they had to pay only a million or so more if Martin performed, or pay nothing if he stunk up the joint and they let him go.
    It’s not like the Bucs are CAP-strapped, and a million is not as great a divide in today’s NFL.
    I am not a Bucs fan, but as an outsider I don’t see any big deal in how this unfolded.

  7. @RavenzGunnerz:

    Hey, guess who was behind AP in rush yards last year.

  8. Let’s not forget that the Bucs were ready to outright release Doug Martin last offseason until Dirk Koetter lobbied to keep him. Martin was coming off two subpar season marred by injury and this is the first time he’s been healthy in almost two years. Martin proved to be a valuable weapon and really helped to take pressure off of Jameis Winston.

    The bottom line is that the Bucs have a ton of cap room and can resign Martin to a deal that works for both sides. No one expected Martin to get the fifth year option picked up last year and he proved his worth, so now he’ll get a bump in pay.

  9. The Bucs fans and their GM are completely delusional….what if he got hurt? Wah Wah, stop crying and being dumb. Plain and simple the smart move was to pick up his 5th year option.

    Your GM is too smart for himself, but I’m sure you’ve already figured that out after your OC somehow ended up HC….let’s see how that works out for you.

  10. Running backs are a dime a dozen. Just look at the Buffalo Bills since 2002 and their 1200 yard rushers. Travis Henry, Willis Mcgahee, Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, CJ Spiller and Lesean McCoy. Its clearly not difficult to find a solid RB in this league

  11. They took a good risk by not resigning him.
    There was nothing to show he’d have a year like he did.

    Now they can invest in a guy they drafted, who has performed and proved the rookie year wasn’t a fluke.

  12. I disagree whole heartily with Michael David Smith’s rationale. Doug was good last year because he did not get injured and the front office finally invested in the offensive line via the draft.

    Let’s look at this another way, as Michael David Smith put it in his piece, Doug’s 2016 salary would be $5.6 million if they picked up the option – and they would have to renegotiate this year anyway if they were to keep him. If he signs at the proposed $6.85 million a year – that’s not a huge raise for the 2nd best rusher in the NFL last year.

    If they were to pick up his option and renegotiate after the 2016 season, one that might even be better that 2015, that raise might be exponentially more.

    They were right not to pick up his option

  13. Martin had 2 poor, injury plagued seasons. No one here was thinking they made a mistake at the time. We were all thinking that this was probably Martin’s last season based on the kind of years he had in 2013 and 2014. Good for him for making the most out of it, but dont for a second think the Bucs erred by not tendering an under-performing, injury plagued running back with 1 good year of service. Which happened to be his rookie season.

  14. Did you see him play the previous two years (when he was healthy enough to do so)? Saying the Bucs made a “Big mistake” in not extending him beyond last season is big-time monday morning quarterback-move.

  15. This article would be fine if you had included “In Hindsight” in your lead. Surely it would be nice now if he had been signed but at the time, it was hard to argue with the Bucs’ decision.

  16. It was a reasonable decision at the time. I can’t fault them at all. Yeah, if only the Bucs had future-vision like all the other teams.

  17. You can always tell when article is written by someone who has no knowledge of the issues of the actual story. It was a smart move to wait. The Bucs could have cut him loose if his fourth year went like years 2 and 3. And they considered the franchise tag given year 4 went well, but clearly had him pretty close to the vest all along. Now he’s in a deal that he’d love to have, and the Bucs have continuity and depth at a position for 7.1 million a year, only $18 M guaranteed. Very smart move.

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