On Thursday evening, the New York Giants announced they had released starting linebacker Blake Martinez. The news was a shock to many Giants fans - but when you dig deeper, is the release of Martinez really something we all should have seen coming?
We have released LB Blake Martinez and claimed OL Tyre Phillips off waivers
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 1, 2022
The Giants acquired Martinez in 2020, signing him as a free agent after his time with the Green Bay Packers. He quickly became a key piece to the Giants defense under Patrick Graham and had amassed 151 tackles. Martinez was handed the reigns, controlling much of the defensive assignments and reads from the middle linebacker position.
After missing the 2021 season with a torn ACL, Martinez was expected to take over the MIKE linebacker position in New York's new scheme under new defensive coordinator, Wink Martindale. However, Martinez's role became less integral as Martindale shifted the defensive quarterback role to safety Xavier McKinney.
Giants players did not vote Martinez to return as one of the team captains.
The decision to release Martinez was not a salary-cap saving decision. Back in March, Martinez agreed to take a pay cut. The Giants only save $176,471 against the cap with the cut and will now carry $7.5 million in dead money.
Simply put, the coaches did not feel the linebacker was a fit in their scheme. Martinez clearly saw the writing on the wall.
Martinez was excused from practice on Wednesday but returned Thursday. According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the decision to move on was mutual between the player and team. Martinez had been excused from practice on Wednesday.
Blake Martinez’s split with the Giants was a mutual decision, per source. Martinez was excused from practice Wednesday but returned today. The decision was deemed best for both parties.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 1, 2022
Where do the Giants go without Blake Martinez?
Well, the linebacker group is not particularly deep. Tae Crowder is the likely candidate to take over the starting middle linebacker position as the Giants prepare for Week 1. Carter Coughlin, Austin Calitro and rookie Micah McFadden are the backups.
The Giants claimed OL Tyre Phillips from the Baltimore Ravens in a corresponding roster move.
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