Raiders LB Blake Martinez To Retire

Blake Martinez has played four games with the Raiders this season. He has started two of those and was on the field for 91% of the Raiders’ defensive snaps against the Jaguars. The veteran linebacker has changed his plans since Sunday.

The seventh-year vet announced his retirement (via Instagram) on Thursday. Martinez spent time with the Packers, Giants and Raiders over the course of a successful career, one coming after he was drafted in the 2016 fourth round.

The Giants reached an agreement to keep Martinez this offseason, coming to terms on a restructured contract with the multiyear starter. Martinez, 28, had suffered an ACL tear during in 2021 and was entering the final season of a three-year, $30MM deal. The Giants reversed course on the high-priced inside ‘backer just before the season, releasing him and taking on some dead money in doing so.

While Martinez found a new home in Las Vegas, that partnership will end up being shortlived. The Raiders bumped Martinez up to their active roster not long after signing him to their practice squad. He recorded a game-high 11 tackles in his fourth and final game as a Raider, logging 63 defensive snaps against the Jags.

One of a few midround Packers draftees to be plugged in as a starting linebacker over the past several years, Martinez ended up starting 57 games with Green Bay. During his four-year run with the team, the Stanford product became one of the NFL’s most reliable sources of tackles. He racked up at least 144 stops from 2017-20, leading the league with 144 in 2017. He notched a career-high 155 in his 2019 contract year, providing a springboard to that $10MM-per-year Giants pact.

Martinez played for current Raiders DC Patrick Graham during much of his career. Graham was in Green Bay in 2018, working as the team’s linebackers coach, and was the Giants’ DC during Martinez’s two seasons in New York. Martinez joined James Bradberry as Giants big-ticket 2020 signings; each player helped Graham’s defense finish in the top 10 in points allowed. But Martinez’s early-season ACL tear in 2021 led to an early end to his Big Blue run.

For his career, Martinez totaled 706 tackles and 13 sacks. During that 2017-20 stretch, no one surpassed Martinez’s 594 tackles. Future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner came closest, reaching 568.

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