The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released running back Doug Martin, the team announced Tuesday. The two-time Pro Bowler was due to make nearly $7 million in 2018 but averaged just 2.9 yards per carry over the past two seasons.
Martin, 29, was benched in favor of second-year back Peyton Barber for the final three games of the 2017 season and was a healthy scratch for the Monday Night Football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 for violating a team rule.
The move was hardly a surprise. When asked by ESPN about Martin's struggles in 2017 and whether he had a future with the team, general manager Jason Licht said, "Without going into much detail, it's safe to say that we need more out of our running game in general. We need to get better run-blocking, we need more explosive plays out of the running back position. I was really happy [and] we were really happy with Peyton [Barber] with the way he came on at the end of the season, so that was positive. Obviously Doug had a down season by his standards and by our standards."
As the article notes, this is not a big surprise. But where do the Bucs go from here? With Martin cut and Charles Sims entering free agency, the Tampa backfield could look very different in 2018. In the seven games in which Peyton Barber carried the ball at least 10 times, he averaged 14.1 carries for 59 yards (4.20 YPC). In those games, he also added 2.0 catches for 15 yards. The Bucs are likely to draft a running back, but depending on the draft capital that they spend, Barber may have the inside track to start in 2018.