by Douglas O’Connor
follow me on Twitter @Ren_Daxt
The 5 year $35.7 million contract Doug Martin signed during the 2016 off season was intended to shore up the Buccaneers backfield for a minimum of 2 years. Giving the Bucs, along with Charles “Chuck” Sims, a extremely productive one, two combo that would make opposing defensive coordinators burn the midnight oil devising a game plan to stop the duo.
Now with Martin’s suspension and Sims inability to run the ball between the tackles. The Bucs have two UDFA running backs , two blocking fullbacks, and an ex-college QB under contract to fill the Doug Martin void.
I’ll go over what the Bucs have, what’s available in free agency, and draft prospects the Bucs could be looking at to fill their huge running back need.
- Martin has served 1 game of his 4 game suspension.
- It takes a total of 5 failed banned substances test to receive a 4 game ban.
- Martin’s 2017 guaranteed money can be voided by the Bucs.
- This move will not accrue any dead money on the Bucs salary cap.
- If this happens Martin will become an UFA.
- Cutting martin will save the Bucs $27.7 million over the next 4 years.
- The Bucs have until June 1st to make a decision.
As a football fans we all hope that Martin can clean up and make it back into the league, but the fact is that trust was broken. Martin broke the trust of fans and most important the trust of his employer. An employer that just rewarded him with $19 million in guaranteed money.
So the question is, does the Bucs need at running back trump the very real possibility of Martin getting suspended again?
If Martin tests positive for the 6th time he will be banished from the league for an entire year and will have to apply for reinstatement. Given this, Martin’s history with injuries, and the cap room the Buccaneers would save. I think that Doug Martins days sporting the pewter and red on Sunday’s are over. We here at Real Bucs Talk wish him all the best but his contributions as a Buc are over.
Charles Sims had his chance to shine in the 2016 season. After Doug Martin went down in week two the RB1 job was his to lose, and he did just that. His week three showing against the Rams was positive, averaging 4.2 yards per rush and 11.5 yards per reception. He even found the end zone. However the following week against Denver his averages dipped to 1.9 and 3.5 respectively.
Many critics, myself included, pointed out that the holes were there but Sims tap dancing behind the line of scrimmage when asked to run between the tackles was killing the Bucs run game. Charles came up lame after the Broncos game and didn’t return for ten weeks. Essentially ending Sims chance to become a long term solution.
Sims is a valuable cog to the Buccaneers offense but needs to get the ball in space to be most effective. He has excellent hands and has the speed to take it to the house from anywhere on the field but if it’s 3rd and 3 or less, Sims has shown he’s not the guy.
Peyton Barber, a UDFA out of Auburn, was promoted from the practice squad to the 53 man roster on September 8th 2016 because of injuries. Spelling the starter for a few plays at a time was all the action Barber could muster. Barber runs with some power but lacks in the “make ya miss” part of his game, especially when running between the tackles.
When… Yes I wrote when the Bucs sign a free agent running back and draft another this off season. Barber will become a victim of the numbers game. There will simply be no room for him on the active roster. The Buccaneers would love to have him on the practice squad, but now that Peyton has some actual game tape. It won’t be long before a team plucks him away from the Bucs.
Russell Hansbrough is another UDFA , bounced up and down from the practice squad to the 53 man roster all year long. He wiggled his way into two games but never logged a carry. I expect a similar role for Hansbrough in 2017.
Austin Johnson & Quayvon Hicks are two old school fullbacks. If you need two tough yards or a Mike linebacker blocked, these are your guys. If you want to run a jet sweep around the edge leave these two on the bench. Jason Licht has been trying to find someone to fill the traditional fullback role since he became GM. Johnson or Hicks might be that guy.
Updated look in at my top twenty-five running backs for this upcoming draft.
Stock Up? Marlon Mack.
Stock Down? Donnel Pumphrey pic.twitter.com/tPxKKARiFS
— Riley (@junioraumanac) February 11, 2017
Any of these top 17 players could be lining up in the Bucs backfield next season. Perine, Foreman, Mack and Hunt are my personal favorites.