Bucs Licht 'optimistic' about re-signing Doug Martin
A few weeks ago, the Bucs believed RB Doug Martin may make it to free agency. While not ruling out that possibility, general manager Jason Licht said Wednesday he is 'optimistic,' the team can reach an agreement with the NFL's second-leading rusher.
Licht plans to meet later this week in Indianapolis with Martin's agent, Brian Murphy. Although the two sides are not believed to be close, and Licht has said there are options in both the NFL draft and free agency at running back, the negotiations have a positive vibe.
"We’ll be meeting with Doug’s people here. We’ve got a couple of things going for us here on that one,'' Licht said. "I know he wants to be a Buc and I know that we want him to be a Buc. I’m sure there will be some obstacles – there always are in negotiations – but we’ll prepare for either way. I’m optimistic and we’ll continue talking with him.”
Martin has two great seasons sandwiched around two injury-filled ones and is 27. There are younger options in the Dolphins Lamar Miller and the Jets' Chris Ivory.
The Bucs also haven't ruled out using RB Charles Sims in an expanded role, although it's clear they prefer for him not to become the primary ball carrier.
“Charles had a nice year for us and we think the world of Charles,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "The role that he played last year was more of a complementary role and he did a great job in that role. Charles is a guy who can do a lot of good things, not only if you hand it to him but if you throw it to him. When Charles was drafted in Tampa I know the feeling was he could be an every down back if need be. We’ll see how that plays out.”
With nearly two weeks remaining before the free agent signing period, it's unlikely the Bucs will lead Indianapolis with an agreement with Martin. The best offer usually requires a deadline. But at least the tenor of the talks sound good.