The NY Giants filled their inside-linebacker hole with Blake Martinez. Here’s what you need to know about the former Green Bay Packer.
It wasn’t the sexy type of move we’ve all been expecting for the NY Giants, but Dave Gettleman went out and signed Blake Martinez on the first night of free agency to a three-year contract. There’s a lot to unpack with this move, so let’s get to it.
First off, even though Martinez has big-time struggles in coverage that we’ll get to, he’s surely an upgrade over Alec Ogletree. While most of us liked the Ogletree move at the time, I sincerely doubt we look back at this signing in the same way we look at Ogletree and his failures now.
The former Stanford linebacker has led the league in tackles for three straight years, and that’s not easy to do no matter the circumstances. However, one of the main knocks on Martinez has been that far too many of his tackles come in places where it doesn’t help the defense. A major part of that has to do with his failures in coverage.
Over the past two seasons, it has not been pretty in coverage, to put it mildly. Martinez has allowed 107 receptions (80% completions) for 980 yards, 7 touchdowns and a 110 quarterback rating against him. Somehow, he’s found a way to do even worse against the pass than Alec Ogletree did for the NY Giants in that time frame.
What Martinez will bring to the middle of the Giants defense is a true thumper that is always looking to engage and find his way towards the ball carrier. 443 tackles in three seasons are nothing to sneeze at, and the former Packer has also displayed the ability to get after the quarterback over the past two seasons with eight combined sacks. Also, in 2017/2018 he racked up 10 tackles-for-loss in each season, so he has shown that he can make plus plays.
New head coach Joe Judge will have to live up to his word with Martinez and make sure he’s putting his players in the best position to succeed. For this signing, it’ll mean pairing Martinez with a linebacker that is a stud in coverage to help hide some of his deficiencies. That type of thing is easier said than done though, so we’ll see how it works out. It’s not very easy to hide one of your inside linebackers on passing downs.
Another thing Martinez will help on is making the defensive calls, as it’s something he did during his time in Green Bay and was credited with doing a solid job at.
Much like with the James Bradberry signing, Dave Gettleman wisely didn’t go past the three-year contract mark with Martinez, as the linebacker will make $30M over three seasons (the guaranteed amount has not been released). You’d have to figure that the team will be able to get out from under the contract after two years if necessary which makes this a low-risk move.
While you may not like what Gettleman has done this offseason, he hasn’t put the NY Giants’ future at risk with his signings. Right now, Big Blue’s cap situation is still very clean heading into the future, and that’ll be important when it’s time to talk contract extension with Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones.
This free agency period hasn’t gone the way many Giants fans may have wanted, but Gettleman can build up some goodwill if he can find a way to land a solid pass-rusher with the last of the remaining cap space.
Official contract terms: 3 years/$30M