TAMPA — After six up and mostly down seasons, Doug Martin's run with the Bucs is over.
The two-time Pro Bowl running back was released by Tampa Bay Tuesday, a move that was expected after he failed to rush for less than 500 yards in four of the past five seasons.
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.
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.
Martin released a statement, thanking the Glazers, current and former coaches and general managers, teammates and fans for their support over the years.
"Today is bittersweet," the statement read. "I hate to leave my teammates when there is still work to be done, but respect the organization's decision."
Martin, 29, was a first-round pick of the Bucs from Boise State in 2012 and quickly burst onto the scene, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie and being named to his first Pro Bowl.
But he was limited by injury and ineffectiveness. A torn ligament in his shoulder forced Martin to miss 10 games in 2013. A combination of knee and hamstring injuries prevented him from playing in five games in 2014.
But after the Bucs decided not to pick up Martin's fifth-year club option, he rejuvenated his career by finishing second in the NFL in rushing behind Adrian Peterson with 1,402 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 and earn another Pro Bowl appearance.
That prompted the Bucs to sign Martin to a five-year, $35.75-million contract as an unrestricted free agent in 2016, which included $15-million in guarantees.
But with the Bucs battling for a playoff spot, Martin was inactive in a critical game at New Orleans before it was revealed the next week he had been suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
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.
Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud