On Wednesday, as the 4 o'clock deadline marking the start of free agency approached, the Buccaneers announced that Doug Martin, the NFL's No. 2 rusher a year ago, would remain in pewter and red for the next five seasons. Martin, who the Bucs selected in the first round of the 2012 draft, was one of the most coveted players expected to hit the open market; NFL.com rated him as the fourth-best free agent at any position.
LISTEN: MARTIN REACTS TO NEW CONTRACT
Throughout this offseason, Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Dirk Koetter have echoed a similar sentiment: Doug Martin wants to be a Buccaneer and the Buccaneers want Doug Martin. While Martin was one of the league's top free agents and would have drawn significant interest from several teams, both sides' desire to continue to work together helped ensure that he remained a Buccaneer.
Photos of running back Doug Martin from the 2015 season.
"I always wanted to be a Buc," Martin said. "They drafted me and I wanted to stay in Tampa. The priority for me was to come back to Tampa so I'd like to thank the Glazers and Dirk (Koetter) and Jason (Licht) for putting their faith in me. We're going to do a lot of good things this year."
Licht, whose staff was responsible for devising the contract for Martin, and Koetter had been vocal about their desire to re-sign Martin since the end of the regular season. They remained transparent about their intentions on Wednesday.
"I've said it before – in any negotiation there are obstacles," Licht said during a press conference at One Buccaneer Place. "One thing that helped was his desire to be here and our desire to want him. There's always some bickering back and forth with any negotiation but, at the end of the day, 99.9% of this was pretty easy."
INSIDER: BUCS BRING BACK MARTIN
"Everybody was transparent in this deal," Koetter said. "We wanted Doug back all along. Doug said he wanted to be back. Doug likes it here, as Jason said. Doug's a popular guy in the locker room because of the style of play he has. Doug was our top choice all along and thankfully it got done today."
The Buccaneers now have a crucial piece returning from what was one of their most productive offenses in team history. Tampa Bay finished fifth in the NFL in total offensive yards this past year, their highest finish ever.
RB Doug Martin led the NFL in rushes over 20 yards. Check out his 20+ yard gains in ascending order.