The Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprisingly deactivated running back Doug Martin prior to their eventual loss on Saturday against the New Orleans Saints, and now we know the reason.
Martin has been suspended for four games without pay by the NFL for violating the league’s drug policy. He issued a statement on Wednesday indicating that he plans to enter rehab.
“I was notified last week of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. My initial instinct was to appeal the suspension and finish the season with my teammates. However, after numerous discussions with people close to me — including Coach [Dirk] Koetter — I am starting the suspension immediately so I can enter a treatment facility and receive the help I truly need.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Martin — who was a healthy scratch last Saturday — was excused from Wednesday’s practice. The suspension will begin this week with the regular-season finale against the Carolina Panthers and carry over the remaining three games for the start of the 2017 season.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Martin is struggling with Adderall use.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 28, 2016
“Doug has been a valued member of our organization for the past five seasons and we respect and support his decision to seek help,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said. “Right now, he is working through issues that are much larger than the game of football. Our primary concern is that he takes this time to focus on getting the help that he needs in order to move forward with his personal and professional life.”
Martin ranked second in the NFL in rushing last season, and he signed a five-year, $35.75 million contract in the offseason. He has slumped to 2.9 yards a carry this season.
It appears that Martin will not see a big chunk of that money because of his suspension.
A four game suspension of Doug Martin under the drug policy is a gift for the Bucs because they can void his $7M 2017 salary guarantee.
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) December 28, 2016
The Bucs entered last Saturday’s game with a shot of making the playoffs, and they still have a very remote hope of making it. So it was strange that Martin was inactive for that Week 16 game against the New Orleans Saints.
Koetter had been mostly mum on the matter, and now we have a better understanding why. Martin’s statement continued:
“On the field, I must be strong and determined to push through both pain and injuries to become an elite NFL running back,” Martin said. “Off the field, I have tried that same approach in my personal life. My shortcomings in this area have taught me both that I cannot win these personal battles alone and that there is no shame in asking for help.
“I sincerely apologize to the Glazer family, General Manager Jason Licht and the entire Tampa Bay organization, my teammates and our tremendous fans. This was not the season I envisioned and I have let everyone down, including myself. However, adversity yields opportunity and I ask for your support in my battle to overcome these personal issues.”
Bucs teammates offered support for Martin returning to form as their teammate before the news became public of the suspension and his entering rehab.
“I know we’ve got a great franchise back in Doug Martin. I’m not worried about his situation,” Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston said Wednesday. “I can’t speak on that. We’ve got a lot of players that weren’t able to play for us this year, whether it was an injury or a coach’s decision. At the end of the day, we’ve got to find a way to make it happen.
“That’s what I’m concerned about … I can only do my part to Doug and be there, be his friend, be his teammate and be his quarterback and just check in on him. But everything that’s beyond my reach, I can’t control.”
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