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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

No deal with Bucs, Martin expected to be free agent



The NFL’s second-leading rusher is about to find out what 31 other teams believe he’s worth.

Barring an unforeseen development in negotiations, Bucs running back Doug Martin is expected to make it to the legal tampering period of free agency which starts Monday.

Discussions between Martin’s agent, Brian Murphy and Bucs general manager Jason Licht as late as Saturday afternoon had failed to close the gap to prevent Martin from being able to talk to teams and possibly reach an agreement either Monday or Tuesday.

The free agent signing period begins with the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Martin, 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.  He also had 42 receptions for 271 yards and a score.

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.

The Bucs can still continue to negotiate with Martin after Monday, but at that point, they run the risk of losing him to another team and would have to consider other free agent running backs to replace him such as the Dolphins’ Lamar Miller and the Jets’ Chris Ivory. The Dolphins and Miller are reportedly working on a new deal.

[Last modified: Saturday, March 5, 2016 2:18pm]


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