By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
The Lions aren’t taking Friday of Week 1 lightly.
Detroit has locked up two key players under 27 years old, agreeing to extensions with running back Theo Riddick and punter Sam Martin, the team announced. Riddick and the Lions came to terms on a three-year extension worth $12.75 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source with knowledge of the contract.
“We are excited to announce contract extensions for Sam Martin and Theo Riddick,” Bob Quinn, executive vice president and general manager, said. “Both players have earned these extensions through their hard work that dates back to 2013 when both joined the Lions. 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.”
Riddick will split time in the backfield with second-year back Ameer Abdullah, who, despite enduring rookie struggles in 2015, still carries plenty of potential and hope for Detroit. But Riddick’s true value is in his versatility. The Lions only kept four receivers coming out of camp (Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, Andre Roberts and Marvin Jones) and likely will target Riddick plenty in the passing game. The Notre Dame product had 80 receptions in 2015, more than double his total from 2014, for 697 yards and three touchdowns.
Detroit also agreed in principle with Martin on a four-year extension worth $13.6 million that makes him the third-highest paid punter in the NFL, Rapoport reported, per a source. An additional $1 million is available in incentives, Rapoport added.
Martin, who spends his home games punting indoors at Ford Field, recorded the best net average of his career in 2015 (42 yards per punt) and also punted a career-high 80 times for Detroit. In three seasons with the Lions, he’s placed 76 punts inside the 20-yard line and had only one boot blocked.
It’s been quite a couple of weeks for specialists, with Andy Lee getting traded to Carolina (and putting on quite a punting performance in a 21-20 loss to Denver), Caleb Sturgis signing an extension with Philadelphia and now Martin inking a deal that will keep him in the Motor City through 2020.