March 9, 2016, is a day Doug Martin will never forget. On that day, Martin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a 5 year/$35 million dollar deal. Martin, drafted by the Bucs in 2012, was a happy camper.
Good to be back!!! pic.twitter.com/BPrmAHvyxK
— Doug Martin (@DougMartin22) March 10, 2016
Martin wrote in that letter that the “best was yet to come”. I don’t think anything could have prepared him for what the next year brought. We’ll get to all of that in a sec. First, let’s get to know Martin a little bit.
Martin exploded onto the NFL scene in his first season when he rushed for 1,454 yards with 11 touchdowns. He finished just 90 yards short of claiming the Bucs single-season rushing record, held by James Wilder with 1,544 yards.
Martin entered year two hoping to build off his monster rookie campaign but was halted early when he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in week 7. Martin was placed on injured reserve and finished the year with one lone touchdown and 456 yards rushing.
Year three was full of ups and downs for Martin as he appeared in 11 games and rushed for 494 yards with two touchdowns. Not exactly the same numbers from his rookie campaign. He was desperate to get back to his rookie playing days, and that’s just what fans witnessed in 2015.
Healthy once again, Martin played in all 16 games and broke 1,000 yards rushing, finishing with 1,402 along with 6 touchdowns. The man was back, and the Bucs took notice with the huge pay raise that came before his disastrous 2016 campaign. Yes, 2016 was a disaster.
Martin played one game before going down with a hamstring injury during week 2’s matchup with the Cardinals. According to Ian Rapport, national insider for NFL.com, he was only expected to miss three weeks. Martin went through setbacks and did not return until week 10. He finished with 421 yards and three touchdowns.
On December 28, 2016, Martin was suspended four games for performance-enhancing drug use. Martin sat out week 16 against the Saints and will sit the first three games of this season.
To all the Bucs fans, football critics of the world and anyone else that has given up on him, I say this–give him one more year. Everyone loves a good comeback story and Martin has gone through all the experiences, including rehabilitation and a minor car wreck, to set himself up for a good year.
In a statement per ESPN’s Jenna Lane on May 25, Martin said he is stronger after rehab.
“It was a journey these past few months with the statement and having to go get help. It was a good journey of self-development and I learned a lot about myself and I got stronger. I’ve had the support of my family, friends, and fans and my teammates all around and I’m happy to be back here. I definitely turned a negative into a positive and I’m out here and I’m definitely a stronger person because of it.”
As for on the field, Martin is showing signs that he is ready to put the past behind him. According to Bucs Head Coach Dirk Koetter, Martin has been impressing at mini-camp this week.
“Doug, he’s definitely in fantastic shape. He does look quick. As we’ve said all along, the main thing with Doug is him being healthy and having his issues behind him.”
He looks like a guy who is focused with his head on straight.
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) June 15, 2017
— Scott Reynolds (@PewterReport) June 13, 2017
As a football fan, I’m very excited to see how he responds this season. If he can stay healthy, he can help get the Bucs back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Now that would be a comeback story.