The running back signed a rich, five-year, $35.75-million extension with the team last March and then struggled, averaging 2.9 yards per carry during the 2016 season. He was also levied a four-game suspension late in the season that he attributed to Adderall use.
Through it all, the Bucs could have moved on from Martin, but they expressed public support for their 2012 first-round draft pick and have kept him on the roster entering training camp.
The Buccaneers also could have drafted a new No. 1 running back, but Martin remains in the mix entering the 2017 season.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” Martin said, as captured by ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
“I know this is going to be a big year for us and … I’ve got a lot to owe to this team and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Martin has drawn rave reviews for his performance and effort during OTAs and minicamp, but his position as the team’s bell-cow running back isn’t assured, especially once he returns from a three-game suspension to begin the year.
The Buccaneers also have Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Peyton Barber, and 2017 fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols in the backfield.
“We like the committee that we have for the first three games, and we’ll see what happens,” general manager Jason Licht said to Dan Graziano of ESPN. “You never know. Somebody can kind of jump out of there.”
Licht again commended Martin’s showing in camp and suggested the extra motivation may do the player some good.
“He might be one of those guys that needs a carrot,” he said. “And he’s got a pretty big carrot in front of him right now, because there’s no guarantees that he’s going to be there. And he knows that. We’ve talked to him, and he’s good with it.”
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