The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use Charles Sims as their lead running back this year, if Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds is correct. In today's Fab 5 column, Reynolds notes that the Bucs are likely to pass on Doug Martin's fifth-year option, and that he could even be traded away on draft day.
Don't look for the Bucs to pick up the fifth-year option on running back Doug Martin, who was the team's first-round pick in 2012. With all of the speculation that the Bucs are one of the teams in the mix to possibly trade for Minnesota Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson or drafting a running back this year after selecting Charles Sims in the third round, it's a clear sign that Martin's days in Tampa Bay are numbered. In fact, Martin could be traded away on draft day.
The early buzz at One Buc Place is that Sims will be the featured runner in 2014 and that the team will likely draft a bigger back to handle short-yardage and goal line situations.
Doug Martin won't be worth much in trade, though. He was an explosive back in 2012, but hasn't shown any of that potential in the past two years, turning instead into a plodding, non-distinct running back, with Bobby Rainey, Charles Sims, Mike James and basically every other back the Bucs gave the ball to the past two years looking like a better runner.
Lovie Smith was a lot less pessimistic on Martin's future publicly, saying "we haven't seen the true Doug Martin yet" at a coaches' breakfast two weeks ago. But public posturing doesn't say all that much about a team's true feelings on a running back. The fact that the Bucs actually pursued a few bell-cow running backs this offseason basically gives the game away, though. The team was linked to both DeMarco Murray and Adrian Peterson, although nothing's come of either connection -- at least so far.
Overall, though, the Bucs' desire to move on from Martin makes a lot of sense, if it's real. They gave him every chance to turn into a reliable back last year, but consistently looked worse than Bobby Rainey. Even so, he continued to get the rock through the very end and led the team in carries quite handsomely. The fact that he didn't reward the Bucs with quality play will bother coaches, who also have a running back they actually invested in personally in Charles Sims.
Sims, meanwhile, was frequently compared to Matt Forte, even by Lovie Smith himself. And we all know how much Lovie Smith loves his former bell cow. Sims isn't on Forte's level, mostly in that he runs away from contact, but the Bucs certainly seem to think there's something there. And while they want to add more talent to the position, it's likely that Doug Martin will lose his lead position to Sims regardless of what happens next.