Late in the evening of April 26, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved swiftly and decisively up into the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft in order to nab Boise State running back Doug Martin. Now, the Buccaneers and Martin have worked just as quickly to get the rookie back under contract, well before the start of the team's 2012 training camp.
On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Martin, the 31st overall pick in the draft, to a five-year deal.
The trade on draft night and Monday's signing actually were connected in a way. The Bucs moved up from the top of the second round to ensure that they got their targeted player, but by doing so they also created an option for a longer first contract. Players in the second half of the first round may receive contracts up to five years long, while second-round picks can receive a maximum of four years in their first deals.
Monday's agreement means the Buccaneers have now signed six of the seven players they selected in April's draft. The only remaining player yet to sign is the team's other first-rounder, safety Mark Barron, who was selected seventh overall. Draft picks may work out with their teams during the offseason, as both Barron and Martin have done, but they may not report to training camp without an agreement in place. The Buccaneers have not had an extended rookie holdout since 1994.
Martin will be in camp on time, and that's good news for the Buccaneers, who intend to utilize him heavily in their 2012 offense. New Head Coach Greg Schiano intends to emphasize the running game, and the addition of Martin to a backfield that already featured LeGarrette Blount could create a very powerful 1-2 punch.
Martin finished his Boise State career with 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns on 617 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per tote. As a senior, he was a key figure in the Broncos' juggernaut offense, which scored more than 44.2 points per game. Martin ran for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011 and was on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back. To cap his collegiate career, he was named the MVP of the 2011 Maaco Bowl thanks to his 151 yards and one score on the ground as well as his 100-yard kickoff return TD to open the game.
As expected by many draft analysts, Martin was the second running back off the board after Alabama's Trent Richardson, who went third overall to the Cleveland Browns following a trade up with the Minnesota Vikings. Scouts praise Martin for his decisive running style, his strength and the explosiveness with which he hits the hole when running between the tackles.