When Doug Martin's suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances came down, it allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get out of the running back's contract, if so desired. Months ago, it seemed likely the Bucs would move on from their high-priced running back.
After not selecting a tailback in the first two days of the draft, however, it's looking like Martin will remain in Tampa's backfield.
"We've been happy with the trajectory he's on," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said of Martin, via Roy Cummings of FloridaFootballInsiders.com. "I've said that before but it's the truth. He has the right mindset right now and he looks good physically.
"We still have some time there but just two years ago he was the second leading rusher in the NFL. Within the building here, we feel comfortable with our guys, and that includes Doug."
The Bucs were thought to be in the market for a running back in the first or second round. Instead Tampa snagged Jameis Winston the top tight end target in O.J. Howard, and snapped up safety Justin Evans in Round 2.
While Licht could select a running back on Day 3 to compete for snaps, any ball carrier taken at this point would have an uphill battle to climb the depth chart enough to make Marin expendable.
"With Doug we're just going to keep on pace where we're at and keep on monitoring," Licht said. "We've had great conversations with him. We still have a few rounds left here, so there could be a back.
"But there could be a wide receiver. Any position really. Until you get them in here, until you get first-hand knowledge of them out there on the field and in the meeting room and see them in a preseason game you can't predict if anybody is going to beat anybody out. But I'd just say we're very happy with the way things are going with Doug."
The Bucs gave Martin a second chance to get himself right instead of immediately cutting ties. When he returns after serving the final three games of his suspension, Tampa hopes 2015 Martin shows up, which would make the Bucs' offense one of the most lethal and entertaining in the NFL.
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