Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were debating whether to pick up Doug Martin’s fifth-year option and maybe even whether they needed to get his replacement in the building already. It’s a year and the Dougernaut had a season worthy of his new-ish nickname, the Bucs re-signed him to a big contract, and the big debate is whether he can be trusted to replicate last year’s production.
Even with that caveat, Pro Football Focus thinks the Bucs got a steal in re-signing Doug Martin. They think he has the second-best running back contract in the NFL, behind only Lamar Miller, who also signed a new deal this offseason.
Another deal signed this offseason, Martin’s contract is very similar to Miller’s. He pocketed $15 million guaranteed up front, and was given around $7 million per season. The dollar amounts are relatively high for the position, but are a long distance from redefining the market. Martin’s contract is also front-loaded like Miller’s, enabling the Bucs to realistically move on as early as 2018.
Re-signing Martin was important, but they didn’t exactly get him at bottom-of-the-market prices. Given that he had two disastrous seasons and two very good one, this was about what you would’ve expected on the open market. And we have no clue whether we’ll see Bad Martin or Good Martin going forward. The early offseason noises are good, but they’ve always been good.
The fact is that the Bucs are now stuck with Martin for two years at $15 million in total. That’s not a ton of money, and I certainly would have signed for that deal. But the running back position is one where players don’t get a lot of money, and one where players decline very early. That’s not a great combination for any expensive contract, even one that seems great.
Regardless, though, the Bucs need Martin to stick around. They built their offense around a punishing running game last year. While they want to eventually build their offense around Jameis Winston, Martin will remain a crucial part of the running game for at least two years — which is exactly how long the guaranteed part of his contract runs.
You’d almost think that was by design.