Lions RB Riddick, P Martin agree to long-term deals
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have reached contract extensions with punter Sam Martin and running back Theo Riddick, locking up two more members of the team’s highly productive 2013 draft class.
Both players were entering the final year of their rookie contracts and the extensions will kick in next season. Sources have confirmed that Martin’s new deal is for four seasons, while Riddick’s is for an additional three years, keeping him in Detroit through the 2019 season.
A sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame, Riddick has transformed from a special teams standout to one of the key cogs of the Lions’ offense. After carving out a role as a receiving back during his second year, he set the franchise record for receptions at the position last season, catching 80 passes for 697 yards and three touchdowns.
ESPN is reporting Riddick’s three-year pact is valued at $12.75 million. The figure is comparable to the contract former New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen received from the New York Giants in free agency in 2015.
“He’s definitely deserving,” teammate Ameer Abdullah said. “Very humble guy, comes to work, puts in extra work every day. He’s someone I’ve kind of followed since I’ve been here, just his routines and how he prepares himself every day. It’s good to see, encouraging to see someone like him get a contract extension.”
Martin, a fifth-round pick in 2013, has become one of the best punters in the NFL. He finished fourth in the league last season with an impressive 42.0 net average, which included 25 punts inside the 20-yard line and just three touchbacks.
He has also handled kickoffs for Detroit the past three seasons, an increasingly important role given the rule change that moves touchback up the 25-yard line starting this season.
Martin’s deal will average $3.4 million per season, also according to ESPN. That would make him the third-highest paid player at his position, behind only Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and New Orleans’ Thomas Morstead.
“Both players have earned these extensions through their hard work that dates back to 2013 when both joined the Lions,” general manager Bob Quinn said in a statement released. “I would like to thank Sam, Theo and their representatives for their hard work assisting us in our goal of completing these extensions prior to the start of the regular season. I’m very pleased that both players can join their teammates in fully concentrating on our opening game.”
Last month, Quinn confirmed to The News that he was engaged in contract discussions with multiple players, but said he didn’t have a specific deadline to get the deals done. At the time, he said he was willing to continue negotiations into the regular season.
Riddick and Martin join cornerback Darius Slay and defensive end Ziggy Ansah as members of their draft class under contract beyond this season.
Slay inked a four-year, $50.2 million extension with the Lions in July, just prior to the start of training camp. As for Ansah, as a first-round draft pick, Detroit held a fifth-year, team option on his contract, which they exercised in May.
By getting extensions done for Slay, Riddick and Martin, the Lions have eased concerns about losing multiple contributors in free agency next offseason. The team still has multiple starters set to hit the market after this season, including offensive tackle Riley Reiff, guard Larry Warford and defensive end Devin Taylor.