The Buccaneers have decided not to exercise their fifth-year option on running back Doug Martin, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The move ensures that, barring a new agreement with the team, the former first-round pick will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2015 season.
Martin, 26, burst into the league in 2012, racking up 1,454 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, en route to a spot in the Pro Bowl. However, injuries and underwhelming production have limited him during the last couple seasons, as he has been repeatedly usurped on the Bucs’ running back depth chart. While Martin should have a chance to earn the No. 1 job this summer, he figures to receive competition from Bobby Rainey, Mike James, and Charles Sims.
As the 31st overall pick, Martin would have been in line for a $5.621MM salary in 2016 had the Bucs elected to pick up his option. Last year, the Saints were in a similar position with running back Mark Ingram and also declined to exercise their option — Ingram responded with a career year, so presumably Tampa Bay wouldn’t mind a similar outcome with Martin.