The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly re-signed star running back Doug Martin to a five-year deal worth in excess of $35 million on Wednesday. While the team did need to retain Martin, they certainly overpaid for his services.
Martin’s new contract will pay out an average of just over $7 million which ranks fifth among running backs in the league. As good as Martin was last season, he does not deserve to be in the top five in running back salary, especially if you look at his career track record.
In four NFL seasons, Martin has had only two really good years. The first was his rookie year, where he tallied 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns and was a catalyst for an otherwise poor Buccaneers team. However, over the next two seasons he regressed badly. He only totaled three touchdowns and failed to reach 500 yards in either season. He also averaged a paltry 3.6 and 3.7 yards per carry and just did not look like he had anything left in the tank.
Then, his contract year came up. And what happened? He exploded for another 1,400 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Though the numbers are terrific, it is safe to wonder whether or not Martin was motivated by the fact that he needed to earn another contract. If he was, then the Bucs could be in some serious trouble.
Players on massive deals have been known to put forth mediocre effort, and given the middle of Martin’s career, it seems likely that he could be one of those guys. He did look sluggish in past seasons after all, so if he gets too complacent, this deal will be awful for the Buccaneers.
I cannot scrutinize the team too much for signing Martin, but the terms of this deal are just irresponsible. The team could have drafted a cheaper replacement, used Charles Sims as a starter, or obtained a similar player for much less. If Martin plays well, then I will eat my words, but for now I would say this contract could backfire.