The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in an annoying position with Doug Martin. On the one hand, they need to wait and see how their running back recovers from rehab and goes through the offseason before they can really move on from him.
On the other hand, if it turns out he can’t contribute significantly to the team’s offense this year (or ever), by the time they figure that out, it’ll be far too late to do anything about it. They’ll be stuck with Martin, Charles Sims, Peyton Barber and probably Jacquizz Rodgers — not the worst group in the world, but that’s not going to be a difference-making roster.
If the Bucs do want to base their offense around the running game, if they want a back to carry their offense, they’ll need to make that decision over the next month. Either get him in free agency, or in the draft — but it will require a significant investment.
And if they make that investment, well, they’ll have made an implicit decision on Doug Martin. They’ll have told him that he’s not their future back. That he might count on some carries this season, if he does well, but that his days are numbered and his replacement is waiting in the wings — and probably overtaking him this year.
In other words: despite Dirk Koetter’s and Jason Licht’s statements that they don’t have to make a decision on Doug Martin for now, they kind of do. And their actions will tell us what that decision is.