The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released running back Doug Martin after six seasons.
It was an unusual six-year run in Tampa for Martin, who topped 1,400 rushing yards in two of those seasons but failed to crack 500 yards in each of the other four. Injuries played a part in several of those less productive campaigns, as did a league suspension that spanned the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
The Buccaneers drafted Martin with the 31st overall pick in 2012 after trading up from the top of the second round to the bottom of the first. He ran for a career-high 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie to make the first of two Pro Bowls. After missing 15 games and rushing for less than a 1,000 yards in 2013 and 2014 combined, Martin rebounded with a 1,402-yard campaign in 2015. He re-signed with the Buccaneers the following spring but was limited to 19 games and 827 yards over the next two years.
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The release of Martin opens the door for a new featured running back for the Bucs in 2018. That could be third-year running back Peyton Barber or a major addition in the draft or free agency.
General manager Jason Licht informed Martin of the move Tuesday morning.
The decision will save the Bucs $6.75 million that Martin was scheduled to earn in 2018. Because of the structure of his contract, the team will absorb no dead money on their salary cap.
Martin went to drug rehab in the off-season but missed the first three games of 2017 completing his suspension. When he returned, he was never the same player. He had a promising season debut rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against the New England Patriots, but that would prove to be a season-high.
Martin was inactive for one game for violating team rules and wound up losing his starting job to Barber. He finished with a career-worst 406 yards on 138 attempts, a 2.9 yard average. In fact, his 2.9 yard rushing average over the past two years was the worst of any running back with at least 100 rushing attempts.
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