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Giants free agency 2018: RB Doug Martin worth taking a chance on?

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Bucs release running back who has had a strange career

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Doug Martin runs with the ball.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Whether or not New York Giants then-general manager Jerry Reese had targeted running back Doug Martin with the 32nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has long been a source of debate. The Giants missed a chance to select Martin when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up to the 31st pick to get in front of the Giants and pick the Boise State star.

Reese insisted after the draft that David Wilson, the running back he took with the very next pick, was really the guy he wanted all along.

Reese is gone, though, and the truth of how the selection of Wilson unfolded probably no longer matters. What does matter is that the Giants, if they want it, now have a second shot at Martin.

The Buccaneers on Tuesday released Martin, who went to two Pro Bowls in his six seasons in Tampa Bay and was named All-Pro after the 2015 season.

Martin, 29, has had a weird career. He has had those two Pro Bowl seasons, gaining 1,454 yards as a rookie in 2012 and 1,402 in 2015. In his other four seasons, though, he has failed to reach 500 yards rushing. He is coming off back-to-back seasons where he averaged only 2.9 yards per carry.

For his career, he has gained 4,633 yards and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. He has also caught 130 passes.

Martin served a four-game suspension in 2015 for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy, and underwent drug rehabilitation.

The Giants’ leading rusher in 2017, Orleans Darkwa, is a free agent. Veteran pass-catching back Shane Vereen is also a free agent. Paul Perkins, the team’s 2016 fifth-round pick, had a disappointing 2017 season.

The Giants were 22nd in the league in yards per rushing attempt (3.9) and 26th in yards rushing per game (96.8) last season.

Coming off two poor seasons there is no way Martin can expect to make anywhere near the $6.75 million he was scheduled to make from the Buccaneers in 2018.

Would he be worth a flier, perhaps on a low-base salary, incentive-laden contract? Or, does his inconsistency and poor recent performance make him a player the Giants should stay away from?

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Rush Rush Rush Rush Rush Rece Rece Rece
Year Age G Rush Yds TD Y/A Y/G Rec Yds TD YScm
2012* 23 16 319 1454 11 4.6 90.9 49 472 1 1926
2013 24 6 127 456 1 3.6 76.0 12 66 0 522
2014 25 11 134 494 2 3.7 44.9 13 64 0 558
2015*+ 26 16 288 1402 6 4.9 87.6 33 271 1 1673
2016 27 8 144 421 3 2.9 52.6 14 134 0 555
2017 28 11 138 406 3 2.9 36.9 9 84 0 490
Care Care 68 1150 4633 26 4.0 68.1 130 1091 2 5724
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2018.