With less than a month until the offseason program begins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter is still noncommittal about Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, who abruptly left the team in Week 16 to enter a drug treatment program.
"Who knows what's going to happen?" Koetter said to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix Wednesday. "Are we going to add a running back in the draft? Is Doug going to continue down the path of good health? And we have other guys we like at the position, too. I don't know what's going to happen, as I sit here today. But right now, we have time on our side."
The Bucs are no longer obligated to pay Martin the $7 million that's guaranteed in his contract because he violated the league's substance abuse policy and was suspended. He can participate in the offseason program, minicamp, training camp and the preseason, but will have to serve the remainder of his suspension -- three games -- when the 2017 season begins.
For those three games, or possibly beyond that if they cut Martin loose, the Bucs could replace him with Jacquizz Rodgers, who started five games last year. There is still talent on the free-agent market, including Adrian Peterson, who has been training with quarterback Jameis Winston this offseason, and Jamaal Charles. They could also turn to a running back in the upcoming draft, something Koetter is open to doing.
"Every team is looking for a game-wrecker with that first [draft] pick, at whatever position he plays," Koetter said. "I would think, of the 32 teams here, everybody is saying, 'Man, this is a good running back draft. Maybe we ought to add one of those guys."
The Bucs hold the 19th overall pick in the draft, which might not land them the top running back, but in a class featuring Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey, there might not be a consensus top back and the Bucs could still possibly get one of them with that spot.
Martin met with both Koetter and general manager Jason Licht a week before the NFL combine in Tampa. They were encouraged by what they saw from him after completing his drug rehabilitation program. But there's still a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds for him, on and off the field.
If Martin does remain on the roster, it makes for a tricky situation in training camp and in the preseason, assuming they don't find themselves in the same conundrum as they were in last year, when they had played six running backs through the first three games due to injuries.
"I'm a Doug Martin fan, we would love to have Doug on our team. But when a guy's been a Pro Bowl running back, you know you're not gonna have him for the first three games of the year, how do you do the reps?" Koetter asked.
"It's almost like he'd be on PUP for coming back for Game 4, but we don't know what we're gonna do weeks 1-3 yet," Koetter said. "I've never been in this situation before. Jason and I have talked about it multiple times. Right now, it just doesn't make sense to make any bold statements about it until we let this time pass."
ESPN's Mike Rodak contributed to this report.