After a spectacular rookie season, Bucs RB Doug Martin has turned in two seasons that have been plagued by injuries and an alarming lack of production. His career is at a crossroads. No longer a kid, the 26-year-old enters his fourth season and, frankly, the Bucs have no idea if the former first-round pick still has what it takes to be an effective back in this league. It's why they declined a fifth-year option on his contract.
Now the Bucs have little time to figure out Martin's future. Because as much as the focus seems to be around rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, the Bucs offense (and Winston's season) will be a lot more productive if the Bucs can move the ball on the ground.
"Definitely a key for us," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug will be the lead guy doing that, so it's very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing."
Martin hasn't come close to his rookie year performance, but you don't have to tell that to fantasy owners who keep taking a chance on him. By now many have likely jumped on board with some of the Bucs other backs like Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Charles Sims. But, the author feels none of them has the talent of Martin. Martin ranks way down our list at 32. It's possible Jameis Winston and the threat of a passing game can help out the Bucs running game, but right now it's tough to predict how many touches Martin will see a game. The story said Martin spent the offseason in California with a new workout routine that has lowered his weight and body fat and increased his stamina. Right around 220 pounds, Martin knows he is playing to, perhaps, stay with the Bucs and maybe even stay in the league.