Ask Gary: Would you bring Martin back at a price?

by Gary Shelton on December 31, 2016 · 2 comments

in general

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After the suspension of Doug Martin for PEDs it brings into question that his performance of 2015 could have been tainted and raises a lot of doubts about how good of a player he can be going forward. I mean that was an exceptional season that came in a contract year after two mediocre, injury plagued years. Running backs have a short shelf life anyway so the question of the day is do you think the Bucs bring him back next year? Should they?

Larry Beller

Larry, I'd bring him back...at a reasonable price. The Bucs would be silly to act like a P.E.D. suspension didn't happen, and if I had once choice -- keep him or cut him, I'd choose the latter. Certainly, you can question his performance in 2015; if anything, playing well then was more important than it was in 2016.

But Martin, when healthy, has been an asset. (Aderall, as I understand, helps focus, but it doesn't help you break tackles.) I'd like for him to be on the team. But I don't think Martin was anywhere close to being worth the money he was paid this year. I'd redo his deal and lean toward an incentive-heavy contract.

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The Bucs should know this better than most teams. You have to be slow to throw away talent. Think the Broncos care that the Bucs were justified in giving up on Aqib Talib?

The Bucs do have to hedge their bets, though. They can't totally rely on Martin; he's burned them once. They need to be cold here. They need to protect the franchise.

Does Doug Martin's suspension release the Bucs from all of the guaranteed parts of Martin's contract? Or just next year's?

Or was next year the ONLY part of the contract that was guaranteed?

Nic Hollis

As I understand, Nic, his entire contract is voided. The Bucs can walk away from Martin if they wish. If it was me, I'd try to keep him, but it would be at a lower price. Running backs are too easy to find to be hostage to a guy you can't trust.

How much of Martin's previous seasons do you believe in now? Last year's terrific season? The horrible seasons that came before it? Martin has made his entire reputation suspect.

I wouldn't bring him back at this price. I would if he'll work cheaper, or move salary to incentives.

Do you think that the Bucs should give Doug Martin a chance to work his way back after rehab (at a reduced price ) or just send him on his way?  Do you think that there are other issues besides PEDS?

Jim Willson

As I've stated, Jim, I'd hate to cut the guy. Whether you think he's the team's fifth-best offensive player or eighth, he's an asset when he's healthy.

But when you couple this season's disappointment with his hefty paycheck, it doesn't compute. I'd only be interested in Martin if he wants to come back for a lesser price. Like I said, I'd pay him a lot in incentives, which seems to be the way to go.

From what I know about Aderall, I'm not sure it should be a PED, frankly. I'd certainly prefer to have a player on Aderall than on, say, cocaine or a heavy steroid. But to protect the franchise, I couldn't just let him go at the minimum punishment. He knew Aderall was illegal. Everyone does.

What is the latest on J.R. Sweezy? Is he in the Witness Protection Program?  I have never seen so little said about a player that the team threw millions at. Is everyone just embarrassed or what?

 Jim Willson
I haven't heard much, either. Remember, Sweezy was supposed to be the new Logan Mankins. He wasn't, and his injury seemed to start a chain reaction across the line. I reached out Friday to the Bucs' p.r. guru, Nelson Luis, who merely repeated that Sweezy had been put on season-ending P.U.P. by the team. There have been no further updates. I don't know where Sweezy is doing his rehab.I do know this. In the years I've covered the league, offensive linemen have usually played through more pain than the players at any position. I've got to believe that Sweezy wants to play. But evidently, that back was hurt worse than any of us thought.

Where does that leave him? Without updates, it's hard to say. You'd hope that the year off would benefit him, and he'd be ready to go next year. If not, he'll join a list of free-agent mistakes (Anthony Collins, anyone) that the Bucs have invested.

I heard that Charlie Strong doesn't do one-on-one interviews. Is that true?  When your program is still getting established, shouldn't you pretty much talk to anyone that will listen?

 Jim Willson
I hadn't heard that about Strong. I do find a few one-on-one interviews he has done over the years online. Maybe coaching at Texas, where every newspaper in the state has a writer covering the Longhorns, beat him down.Of course Strong should talk to anyone who will listen. It's part of running a program. And if you don't do one-on-ones at USF, you end up talking to room with one newspaper beat guy and a bunch of kids from the college paper. It's hard to big-time people when you're at a small-time program.I would hope Strong will adjust for the sake of that program. Oh, I'm sure someone from Austin, Texas, will drop by. Someone, maybe, from the major websites. In time, Strong will adjust.

When Alabama plays Washington on 12/31/2016, will Lane Kiffin be on the field as Alabama's offensive coordinator?  If not, will it matter?

Scott Myers

As I understand it, Kiffin's first priority is to Alabama in the post-season. That's rare. Both Willie Taggart and Tom Hermann immediately left for their new jobs. Kiffin seems to want to have it all.

I don't know about you, but it was odd that Kiffin went to FAU. I would have thought he could have landed at a much bigger job, even if he had to wait (and rehab is reputation) for a year. We'll never know how peacefully Kiffin and Nick Saban co-existed, but it seemed an odd hire. A Texas Tech or a Purdue sort of job might have worked.

Of course, Kiffin has no one to blame but the guy in the mirror. His stay at Tennessee was an embarrassment. But I think the guy is a decent enough coach. As I've written, no college football coach has ever treated me better.

I do know this: To turn around a program like FAU, a guy needs to be on the job. The school's administration is bending over backward for Kiffin. I hope he's worth it.

When I woke up that morning and saw that Lovie Smith had been fired, I was shocked. Truthfully, however, I wasn’t disappointed. I had been quite concerned that Koetter would be leaving us for a head coaching job. When I saw Lovie had been fired it was clear that the Glazers shared my concern. Now, after one full season at the helm, I would say that overall Koetter hasn’t disappointed me. My only real complaint would be that he needs better play-calling in big games in order to get Jameis relaxed and in a rhythm. What say you?

Michele Forte

I like Koetter. I like that he doesn't hide behind injuries or whine about the schedule. He's a grown-up.With Koetter, I saw some players getting better on the job, which I didn't see when Lovie was here.

I can't say I agreed with all of his play calls, either. But, in the end, Koetter is going to be judged by whether he can develop Winston or not. To that end, it's imperative the Bucs add more weapons. Another receiver. Another back. More defensive players.

I remember a conversation I had with Tony Dungy once. He said that a good Warrick Dunn added 10 i.q. points, and a good Mike Alstott added 10, and this guy added 10, and that guy, and that. In other words, great players made a coach a genius. I don't think Koetter has enough yet.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller December 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

I just hope the Bucs do use a cold, calculating evaluation of Doug Martin and only bring him back if they see concrete evidence he can help the team. They can’t blindly assume he will ever return to form of his best years after the suspension. As I understand it Martin will be able to be on the team in training camp and then sit out the first 3 games. If that’s the case they need to make him earn his spot on the team based on what he does in training camp and preseason if they decide to bring him back at all.

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Gary Shelton December 31, 2016 at 9:17 pm

I’ve read three games, too. What we don’t know if his suspension started before last week, which would mean he would owe only two more games.

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