Released Giants veteran would anchor Commanders linebacker rotation
By Jerry Trotta
Washington Commanders fans are currently up in arms over the defense’s uninspiring linebacker room. While Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis offer some optimism, the re-signings of Jon Bostic and David Mayo were met with vitriol and rightly so given how they’ve performed over the last few seasons.
It’s not only the fact Bostic and Mayo were re-signed.
It’s that Washington bypassed countless opportunities to make upgrades through free agency, trade and the draft. We would’ve settled for a waiver claim. Instead, they claimed two corners who have one NFL defensive snap between them.
Not that the Commanders deserve another chance to bolster their linebacker rotation, but an opportunity has presented itself out of nowhere.
On Thursday, the Giants released starting middle LB Blake Martinez in a move that surprised seemingly everyone around the league.
If Washington isn’t all over this, they’ve lost the plot.
The Commanders should sign recently-released Giants linebacker Blake Martinez.
Martinez is still a quality player, but he fell victim to the new regime in East Rutherford. The Giants saved $6 million in cap space by renegotiating his contract earlier this offseason and he lost his third-down role to Tae Crowder. Simply put, Martinez wasn’t a fit in new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s scheme.
The Giants saved less than $200,000 by releasing Martinez, who’s guaranteed a measly $1.24 million under his new-look deal.
Martinez missed most of 2021 after he tore his ACL in September. The previous season, however, he was a borderline Pro Bowler, posting a career-high 75.9 player grade from Pro Football Focus to go with 151 tackles (third in the NFL), nine tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, five passes defended and 58 run stops.
If you look at his career numbers, he’s posted similar numbers in each of the previous three seasons dating back to 2017, his first as a stater for the Packers. And guess what, Commanders fans? He can hold his own in coverage.
In 2020, Martinez finished with a 73.9 coverage grade from PFF, allowing 47 receptions on 63 targets for 377 yards (just 8.0 yards per catch) and zero touchdowns. Opposing QBs had just a 82.6 when targeting him.
In 2019, he tallied a 64.2 coverage grade while again allowing zero touchdowns and holding opposing quarterbacks to a 90.8 passer rating. In 2018, he logged a 82.6 coverage grade over a whopping 573 coverage snaps.
Martinez might not be the same athlete post-ACL surgery, but there’s nothing to suggest he endured a huge fall in that regard.
If the Commanders front office had any sense, they’d cut bait with one of Bostic or Mayo and sign Martinez to rotate with Holcomb and Davis. Short of signing Alexander Johnson, Washington couldn’t do much better anchoring their LB core than signing Martinez with the regular season just a week away.
Hope I’m not talking to a brick wall.