Not only has the former Packers linebacker announced that he will be leaving the Las Vegas Raiders, but he has also announced that he is retiring from the NFL after seven successful seasons. Martinez’s time with the Green Bay Packers before joining the Giants was anything but ordinary; he led in tackles for three full seasons making him the first defender on the team to lead the league in tackles since A.J. Hawk. During his career with the team, he landed a total of 512 tackles, three interceptions, ten sacks, and two forced fumbles in 61 games overall, 57 of which he started in. Anyone taking part in a little friendly football betting has been able to rely on Martinez, but they’ll have to find somewhere else to put their money from next season onwards.
Though Martinez recently wrote on Instagram that he had a wonderful time with a number of great franchises during his career, we have reason to believe that he was less than happy with the Packers defense that he was leading during his time there. He certainly seemed invested in the team, taking an active part in their “Packers Vs. Cancer campaign”, which earned him a nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2019. However, he felt his former team did not place a high enough value on his skills as a linebacker, which we can only assume is what caused the rift.
Looking a little more closely at the situation, it’s clear to see that there was fallout from the split. When Martinez was asked to leave the Packers for the Giants, it seems that the two factions only negotiated very briefly and did not talk much about the transfer. When the news was still breaking, Martinez took the time to think carefully about what a change like this would mean for his future. Comments that he made after the negotiations began made it abundantly clear that Martinez felt his talents would be better utilized and appreciated elsewhere. Not only did Martinez feel that his talents were undervalued, but he felt there was no value placed on the defensive positions in general and the inside linebacker position in particular when compared with other teams. This sentiment is backed up by the fact that Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst had far fewer resources at their disposal for the position than they could have had.
Image by Camera-man via Pixabay
When Martinez’s contract came up, and the deal asked for a $10 million dollar re-sign fee, the Packers ultimately went with a linebacker- Christian Kirksey- whose fee came in at a far more “reasonable” $6 million per year over two years, which says a lot about the value placed on that position.
Martinez’s concerns continued to become clear when he spoke out about resenting the role he was asked to play in the team. Not linebacker, because that’s what he was paid for, but rather “clean up guy’, as he phrased it in an interview. He felt that he was put in a position where he had minimal capacity to make plays himself but instead was a sort of babysitter who had to sit back and wait for other players to take initiative and let the action come to him. He felt that this lack of action on the field damaged the public and professional perception of his skillset and that it caused him to be perceived as an ineffective player, which seems like a fair assessment.
Left for Dead
Martinez spoke at length, both in candid language and veiled terms, about how essentially abandoned he felt by his higher-ups. He believes that his statistics took a real nosedive in 2019 because he was essentially just a pawn on the field to be shuffled around rather than a player with autonomy. Mike Pettine’s coordinating abilities are now put up for debate due to these revelations. Some feel that Martinez is just a disgruntled former player who tried to get a few swipes in at his former team before he hit the road, but others see the logic in his thoughts and the evidence in his statistics.
Martinez certainly made some waves in his career for several reasons, most of them undisputedly good. He was a solid Packer for four years.