Bucs, Martin agree to 5-year, $35.75 million deal
Doug Martin got his big payday and the Bucs will keep their franchise running back.
After a long negotiation described by some as tenuous, the Bucs reached an agreement with Martin on a five-year, $35.75-million contact. The deal includes $15-million guaranteed.
The Bucs and Martin reached an accord just 97 minutes before the start of the new NFL year at 4 p.m. Wednesday when other teams could've formally signed Martin.
"Our top priority heading into this offseason was to ensure that Doug remained a Buccaneer and today we are excited to announce that he will," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. "Many of our offensive accomplishments last season can be attributed to the success of our running game with Doug in the backfield and we believe he is a perfect fit for our offensive system. It is always satisfying when you get the opportunity to reward one of your own players and Doug certainly has earned his place as one of our young foundational players."
After reaching the agreement, Martin's agent, Brian Murphy tweeted, "Congrats to @DougMartin22. Doug was adamant about staying in TB bc he lovces the team and fans. Real honor to work 4 a man of principle."
The Bucs have callled a 5 p.m. news conference with Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter to formally announce the signing and Martin will be available by conference call.
Martin, 27, who lost the rushing title to the Vikings Adrian Peterson last season, is coming off a spectacular All Pro year in which he gained 1,402 yards on the ground and scored six touchdowns.
It's the second time in four seasons Martin has eclipsed the 1,400-yard rushing mark, which he achieved as a rookie. But the Bucs failed to pick up his fifth-year option for $5.9-million in 2015 because of back-to-back injury-plagued years in which he combined to play in only 16 games.
Licht and Murphy met two weeks ago at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Licht had said there were some ‘obstacles,' to overcome but both sides were eager to strike a deal for Martin to remain in Tampa Bay.
But the two sides struggled to reach a breakthrough in negotiations. On Tuesday night, the leverage shifted to Martin among reports that Dolphins free agent running back Lamar Miller was close to agreeing to a contract with the Houston Texans worth $6.5-million. Then the Jets Chris Ivory struck an accord with the Jaguars for just more than $6-million per year.
That didn't help the Bucs, who knew they were bidding against several other teams for Martin and likely paid more than expected but less than the $8-million per season former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray got from the Eagles after leading the league in rushing in 2014.
The signing of Martin provides more continuity on the NFL's fifth-ranked offense under new head coach and play-caller Dirk Koetter, who lobbied hard for the Bucs to re-sign Martin. It also takes enormous pressure off quarterback Jameis Winston, who passed for more than 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns thanks in part to the balanced attack on offense.