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Buccaneers and Doug Martin hopeful they can get a contract done

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do what they can to keep Doug Martin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Roy Cummings reported earlier this month that the Bucs and Doug Martin had started contract talks, and now Pewter Report notes that talks are continuing, and both sides are "hopeful" they can get something done.

The Bucs have looked at Martin's entirety with the team as a whole when assessing his value. He had two injury-filled years sandwiched between two Pro Bowl seasons in Tampa Bay. Both sides remain hopeful of reaching a consensus on a new contract prior to the start of free agency on March 9. The one thing Tampa Bay does not plan on doing is using the franchise tag on Martin.

That should be doable. As happens every year, most prospective top free agents are unlikely to actually hit the market as they'll be re-signed or tagged before free agency opens. Martin likely won't be hit with the franchise tag, but a contract sure seems to be likely.

Here's what I said about running backs salaries about a month ago, and nothing's really changed in that time.

Looking at running back contracts around the league, Martin's likely to be paid around $7-8 million per year, which is the going rate for a good but not elite back. That's what LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart and Jamaal Charles managd to get from their teams, with the stratosphere of Marshawn Lynch ($12 million per year) and Adrian Peterson ($14 million per year) distinctly unattainable.

I would not expect the Bucs to get him to re-sign him for less than $7 million per year -- at that point we're talking about old backs like Frank Gore, or role players like Shane Vereen, Darren Sproles and C.J. Spiller.

The Bucs will pay Doug Martin a hefty sum, but not one that will make a massive impact on their salary cap. The fact that Koetter pushed hard for the Bucs to focus on Martin last offseason helps, of course, as does the fact that he told reporters during the season that he wants to keep the running back. There's no reason to believe any of that has changed.