If any team is ready to become a ‘seller’ at the NFL Trade Deadline, it’s the 1-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Already having shipped out tight end Tim Wright before the season, Tampa Bay currently holds two of the most intriguing, if not coveted, trade pieces: Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson.
Recent rumors have placed Martin in New England as the Patriots are just two weeks removed from losing running back Stevan Ridley for the season with tears in his ACL and MCL. Ridley, Shane Vereen, or Jonas Gray, New England could certainly use a boost at this position. The Patriots’ three rushing touchdowns are the second-fewest in the National Football League.
Of course, New England’s offense — third-best in the league in points per game — has continued to thrive after a comparably slow start — an average of 20 points per game in their first four games as compared to 39.5 in their last four — so the need for an upgrade at running back is more of a novelty than necessity. It is with this leverage that the Patriots make their best moves. Make no mistake about it, New England and Bill Belichick will not overpay for Doug Martin.
What makes Martin so appealing to savvy investors is his rapidly decreasing price yet steady potential. Running backs are, by nature, a fragile bunch, one severe hit away from a prolonged injury. Martin is not only in this category, he might actually be the poster-boy. But with risk comes reward, and his outstanding rookie campaign of 11 touchdowns and 1,454 yards has not yet been forgotten. He is unlikely to ever perform at a level close to his 2012 season, but a change of scenery into an offense that has had success with multiple running backs might keep Martin healthy and productive.
If few suitors show up to the bidding table, the Patriots might be buying low on one of the big upside plays of the trade deadline.