The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' backfield of Doug Martin and Charles Sims has flown under the radar as the best tandem in the NFL this season.
Martin sits No. 2 in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,354 on 273 carries. With a big game Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers, Martin could leap Adrian Peterson to become the first Bucs player ever to lead the league in rushing. Sims is an underrated dual-threat back, compiling 1,001 yards from scrimmage (514 rushing, 487 receiving).
Martin, 26, is set to become a free agent this offseason, but the sides are already working on keeping the back in a Bucs jersey.
"We've already talked a little bit,'' general manager Jason Licht said, via the Tampa Tribune. "We will definitely be talking (more). We'd love to have Doug back.''
Last offseason, it looked like the Bucs might dump an ineffective Martin, but the 5-foot-9 pinballing runner bounced back in a big way. Martin has carried Tampa's offense for long stretches this season, taking some pressure off rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.
For his part, Martin also said he'd like to remain in Tampa, but isn't fretting about the situation.
"I love it here and I have a beautiful home here,'' Martin said. "I'd love to come back. But right now I'm focused on our last game. I'm aware they're talking, but I'll let them handle that for now.''
The Pro Bowl back could seek a similar deal to the five-year, $40-million contract DeMarco Murray signed last year in Philadelphia. Whether the Bucs want to shell out that kind of cash at the running back position remains to be seen, but keeping Martin in Tampa should be a priority heading into free agency.