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The New York Giants thought they had a long-term option at linebacker in 2020 when the team signed former Green Bay Packers LB Blake Martinez.
One week away from the start of the 2022 NFL season, the Giants made the surprising announcement on Thursday that they have officially released Martinez.
Coming off an ACL tear in 2021 that forced him to miss the year, Martinez was looking to play his way back into the starter’s role, even taking on a restructured contract this off-season.
Martinez was reportedly allowed to exit Wednesday’s practice early for “personal reasons” and reached a mutual agreement with the Giants to depart a day later. The Giants’ decision may have more to do with the team’s change of coaching and front office rather than Martinez’s ability to start again.
From 2017 to 2020, Martinez recorded 100+ tackles per season. In his sole year with New York (2020), Martinez quickly established himself as a tackling machine: racking up 140 tackles (team-high), two forced fumbles and an interception.
In 2022, Martinez represented a bygone regime for the Giants as a key signing of the Dave Gettleman era.
Rookie Giants head coach Brian Daboll added defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to spearhead Big Blue’s defense, and general manager Joe Schoen to fix a roster that the infamous Gettleman built.
Schoen added to the LB group this off-season by drafting Cincinnati LB Darrian Beavers and Hoosiers LB Micah McFadden in the 2022 draft.
Reports from Giants camp have given McFadden strong reviews but Schoen still finds himself with a void to fill over the middle with Martinez gone.
Third-year linebacker Tae Crowder is expected to command the defense as the Giants’ lead linebacker. Crowder started all 17 games for New York last season.