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RB Doug Martin not a favorite in Tampa Bay

2d

TAMPA, Fla. -- Whenever the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are asked about Doug Martin, they say one thing. They claim they like the running back.

But their actions consistently have sent a different message. The latest example came Monday. The Bucs have decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on Martin’s contract, meaning he’ll be a free agent in 2016.

Ironically, former general manager Mark Dominik said one of the reasons the Bucs traded up to draft Martin in 2012 was to get a fifth-year option. Only first-round picks are eligible for fifth-year options.

Martin rushed for 1,454 yards as a rookie, but his production has slipped as he has dealt with injuries the past two years. Martin ran for 494 yards and two touchdowns last season.

But it wasn't just the injuries that slowed Martin. The new regime of coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht didn't seem high on Martin from the start. They used a third-round pick on Charles Sims last year.

Sims missed the first half of last season with an injury. Once he started playing, he shared carries with Martin. That trend is expected to continue this year.

In fact, it wouldn't be a big surprise if Sims becomes the featured back.