Doug Martin spent six years in Tampa Bay as a member of the Buccaneers, but in 2018 he returned home.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Martin signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders last year, deciding to play for his hometown team. After a rocky couple of years toward the end of his tenure with the Bucs, Martin was a bright spot for the Silver and Black last season. The Boise State Bronco filled in for Marshawn Lynch when No. 24 suffered a groin injury that kept him sidelined for most of the season, starting in nine games, totaling 723 rushing yards, four touchdowns, and 116 receiving yards while averaging 4.2 yards per carry (his highest since 2015).
Following an impressive first season in his Raiders uniform, it was unclear whether the 30-year-old would return, but on May 2 the team officially re-signed him.
“I’d like to say I’m blessed to have another opportunity to play for Raider Nation,” Martin told the media Tuesday following the first day of Organized Team Activities. “It’s my home team, I’m glad to be back.”
Many of the offense’s best moments last year came with Martin on the field, and his quarterback is excited to get him back in the fold.
“I love Doug besides the fact he went to Boise,” Derek Carr joked. “We fight about that literally every day, but Doug being here… Doug is a guy that obviously he’s proven during his time in the NFL he’s a Pro Bowl player. He’s proven he works his tail off and all those things. Whenever you get a guy that every single year continues to prove that, you’re like: ‘He deserves to be on our team. He should be here.’ When we re-signed him, I texted him — we literally sent texts at the same time because we were both super pumped. He wanted to be here; we all wanted him here; and [we're] super fired up he’s still here.”
Martin was optimistic that even if he didn’t end up on the Raiders he’d find a landing spot, but the opportunity to return to his hometown team and still operate in a system he’s familiar with was too hard to pass up.
“I kind of live my life as if something doesn’t go my way I’m going to stay optimistic,” he shared. “I was optimistic about the situation, I knew I was going to be somewhere and do good things, but it’s just crazy how things folded out."
While many aspects of his return feel the same, there are a couple things that have changed.
First, when Martin takes the field this season he won’t be wearing No. 28, which is what he wore during his first season as a Raider. He’s decided to wear the number he wore in high school, college, and when he first entered the league.
Second, Martin is now the veteran presence in the running back room, a position he’s not exactly accustomed to being in. The Raiders had three first round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and with those picks, the team addressed a handful of needs on the roster, one of them being the running back position. With the No. 24 overall pick, General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden selected University of Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, unanimously considered the top back in the class.
At 30 years of age, Martin knows he’s surpassed his days of 200-plus carries a season, and even though he still has plenty of juice left, he knows he’s also in a mentorship role now.
“With Josh Jacobs, he’s a good kid, good character, y’all heard his story. I read it myself and I commend him for being as strong as he is. I’m here to mentor, push him,” Martin said. “I’ve been in the league eight years, so I am the vet now. I can’t believe it, but that’s the case. So, I’m here to just be that role model for him and if he has any questions I’m here for him. He’s got good character, but he’s the type of dude that can just run you over.”
It’s too early to tell how Gruden will utilize Martin and Jacobs in his offense, but he offered a bit of insight during his availability Tuesday.
“There’s a good chance we play some two halfbacks this year,” Gruden said. “You see New Orleans [Saints] do it with Kamara and the other running back they have. Perhaps we go that route also.”
The Raiders got better at a lot of positions this offseason, but we all know the Super Bowl isn’t won in May. The team has lofty goals and the amount of talent added through free agency and the draft should help them get there, but in the meantime, Martin is just happy to be back and is looking forward to the next phase of his career as a mentor.