As PFR noted in assessing the offseason outlook for Tampa Bay, Martin was one of the NFL’s least productive running backs in 2017. Among the 36 running backs who handled at least 125 carries last season, Martin finished dead last with a paltry 2.94 yards per rush. Pro Football Focus ranked Martin as the No. 53 RB among 58 qualifiers, while the 29-year-old placed last among backs in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric, which measures value on a per-play basis.
Martin, 29, has failed to top 450 rushing yards in either of the past two seasons as injuries and a four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension limited his time on the field. That PED ban voided the rest of the guarantees in Martin’s deal, and the Buccaneers’ favored contract structure — which involves no signing bonuses — means the club won’t incur any dead money by cutting Martin. Instead, Tampa Bay will pick up $6.75MM in salary cap space.
With Martin off the roster, the Buccaneers will almost surely search for a new running back in free agency or through the draft. Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber are still under contract, but neither is likely capable of being a top-tier back, while fellow runner Charles Sims is scheduled to hit free agency in March. Tampa Bay could consider free agents such as Carlos Hyde, Le’Veon Bell, Dion Lewis, or Isaiah Crowell, or select a back such as Ronald Jones (USC), Derrius Guice (LSU), or Sony Michel (Georgia) on Day 1 or 2 of the draft.
Because he’s a vested veteran, Martin will now hit the free agent market immediately. While his recent track record is uninspiring, Martin will get the jump on the rest of the 2018 free agent running back class, perhaps giving him an opportunity to land a deal before free agency officially opens next month.
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