Blake Martinez

Steelers To Sign LB Blake Martinez Off Panthers’ Practice Squad

For the second time in two days, the Steelers are signing a linebacker who recently retired. After bringing back Myles Jack, the team will add Blake Martinez.

Pittsburgh is signing Martinez off Carolina’s practice squad, per’s Adam Schefter. Martinez came out of retirement recently, catching on with the Panthers. The former Packers and Giants starter will move closer to game action now. Martinez has not seen game action since he retired midway through last season.

Because Martinez is being signed off another team’s P-squad, he must remain on the Steelers’ active roster for at least three weeks. The Steelers have lost two linebackers — Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb — for the season. The depleted group will soon have both Jack, 28, and Martinez, 29, at practice. Both began this season as retired players.

This represents quite the course change for Martinez. The Giants gave the prolific tackler a three-year, $30MM deal in 2020, but a 2021 ACL tear altered his career. Big Blue released the veteran defender just before last season, and although the Raiders eventually picked him up, a strange chapter took place soon. Martinez retired following an 11-tackle performance — in a Week 9 Raiders loss to the Jaguars — and went into business selling Pokemon cards. That venture proved to be highly lucrative in its first year, but Martinez and his company have since been met with allegations of scamming customers and banned from the online marketplace on which it operated.

Prior to the unusual retirement decision, Martinez had been one of the NFL’s premier tacklers. He totaled at least 144 stops in each season from 2017-20, being a key Packers second-level presence and initially justifying the Giants’ free agency payment. He added 11 sacks from 2018-20. The ACL tear nixed that path, leading to a pay-cut agreement in 2022. After the Giants decided to cut bait months after that salary adjustment, Martinez still made two starts for the Raiders. He will join a Steelers team that has depended on its defense throughout the season.

Alexander and Holcomb being lost for the season left Elandon Roberts as a key piece; the former Patriots and Dolphins ‘backer posted 15 tackles against the Browns. Roberts’ 71 stops lead the team. The Steelers turned to Mykal Walker as their other three-down LB against the Browns. Walker is on team No. 4 this season, moving from the Falcons to the Bears to the Raiders to the Steelers over the past few months. Suddenly, Roberts will be surrounded by veteran newcomers. Jack, who spent last season in Pittsburgh, became available shortly after Philadelphia released him from its reserve/retired list.

Panthers To Sign LB Blake Martinez

Blake Martinez is set to make an NFL return. The veteran linebacker has agreed to a deal with the Panthers, per Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report. Head coach Frank Reich has confirmed the move, which will see him join Carolina’s practice squad.

Martinez surprisingly retired midseason in 2022, bringing an end to his brief tenure with the Raiders. He played just four games for Vegas before deciding to hang up his cleats. The move came one season after his second campaign with the Giants was cut short by a torn ACL.

The 29-year-old quickly turned his post-playing attention to Blakes Breaks, the company he operated which focused on selling rare Pokémon cards. That venture proved to be highly lucrative in its first year, but Martinez and his company have since been met with allegations of scamming customers and banned from the online marketplace on which it operated. Not long after that development, he will now attempt to return to the field.

Martinez spent the first four years of his career with the Packers, and he established himself as a highly productive contributor in the middle of their defense. The former fourth-rounder recorded at least 144 tackles every year between 2017 and ’20, the latter campaign marking the start of his New York tenure. Prior to his ACL tear, Martinez also proved to be effective in the pass-rush department, racking up 13 sacks.

The Stanford alum was a rotational member of the Raiders’ defense during his 2022 cameo, logging 115 combined defensive and special teams snaps across his four games. It will be interesting to see how large of a workload he will receive once he starts his tenure with the Panthers, a team which has dealt with a number of major injuries on defense this year.

That includes Shaq Thompson being sidelined with a broken leg, though he is aiming to come back at some point this season. Regardless of if Thompson is able to suit up again in 2023, Martinez could very well find himself seeing notable playing time in the near future. A healthy, productive stint to close out the year would help his free agent stock ahead of the spring, presuming he intends to return to the NFL on a permanent basis moving forward.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/17/23

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed off Giants practice squad: S Alex Cook

Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

Philadelphia Eagles

Retired LB Blake Martinez Finds Success After Football

After co-leading the league in total tackles in his sophomore season, linebacker Blake Martinez delivered three straight seasons with more tackles than he totaled in that second year of his career. The tackling machine came to a screeching halt in 2021, though, when a torn ACL sidelined him for the rest of the season. He then made the surprise decision to retire midseason the following year. The reason for that retirement may have seemed questionable to some, but according to a deep dive by The Athletic’s Zak Keefer, it seems to be paying off.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Martinez got interested in an old childhood hobby of his: Pokémon cards. He collected as a child, and after stumbling upon some articles detailing the worth of well-kept cards, he implored about his old collection, discovering that his parents had given them away. Still, knowing that it was a thing he was both knowledgeable and passionate about, Martinez got back in the game.

In his first foray into the buying of cards in search of rarities to resell, Martinez netted $108K in profit from a purchase load of approximately $40K. The profit comes from a live stream opening of purchased cards that allows other collectors to see potential rarities they’d like to add to their collection. Soon after his first stream, Martinez announced the conclusion of his NFL career, despite leading the Raiders in tackles in his final professional game.

Martinez’s money-making hobby turned into his own company, Blake’s Breaks (a reference to box breaks, the act of opening new packs of cards). He has since hired about 20 full-time staffers, and his company streams an average of 16 hours a day, with Martinez still hosting a stream two or three times a week. In the first year of its existence, Blake’s Breaks has reportedly brought in over $11.5MM of revenues.

Can a football player make that much in a single year alone? A good one can, and Martinez himself had a three-year, $30.75MM contract at one point in his career. But Martinez found a way to turn something he loved into a business that brings in multiple millions of dollars of revenue without putting his body on the line. At a time with his ailing body was starting to cost him money in the NFL, it’s a best-case scenario for Martinez.

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.

Raiders Sign LB Blake Martinez To Active Roster

The Raiders are bringing up permanent help at linebacker, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, signing recently acquired practice squad linebacker Blake Martinez to the active roster today. Martinez had visited a couple weeks ago with the Ravens and Raiders but didn’t end up officially signing with Las Vegas until offered a practice squad spot just three days ago. 

Martinez is a former fourth-round pick for the Packers who is a straight tackling-machine. In his sophomore season, Martinez tied with Preston Brown and Joe Schobert for the league-lead in total tackles with 144. The next year he repeated the effort with 144 tackles and improved on those seasons with 155 in 2019 and 151 in 2020, despite not leading the league in any of those following seasons. He also is an adept playmaker behind the line of scrimmage, totaling 13.0 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 39.0 tackles for loss over his career.

After playing out his rookie contract in Green Bay, Martinez signed a three-year contract with the Giants in free agency. Unfortunately, Martinez suffed a torn ACL in the second year of his new contract, landing him on injured reserve. The Giants surprisingly decided to cut the veteran linebacker despite his agreeing to take a pay cut earlier in the offseason. Perhaps even more surprising is how long it’s taken him to find a new home.

The Raiders have brought in Martinez likely due to the recent absences of Pro Bowl starter Denzel Perryman. The former Hurricane has failed to play a full game this season. Perryman was carted off the field in a Week 1 matchup against his former team, the Chargers, and sat out the next two weeks recovering from an ankle injury. In his first game back this past Sunday, Perryman was forced to leave the game early after sustaining a concussion. With Perryman being mostly absent so far in the 2022 season, Las Vegas will hope that Martinez can, at the very least, fill in until he can return.

To make room for Martinez on the 53-man roster, Las Vegas moved another recently acquired player on injured reserve. According to Rapoport, offensive tackle Justin Herron, traded from New England on September 21, tore his ACL in practice yesterday and will be out for the remainder of the year. Herron got some productive snaps in his first game appearance as a Raider last weekend, but it seems he’ll have to wait quite a bit to make a second impression.

In another related move, the Raiders filled Martinez’s practice squad slot with veteran wide receiver Albert Wilson.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/4/22

Today’s practice squad moves:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Raiders To Meet With LB Blake Martinez

The Giants made Blake Martinez a surprise cut just before season, releasing the veteran linebacker despite carrying him through to their 53-man roster. The seventh-year defender has resurfaced via multiple scheduled visits this week.

After meeting with the Ravens on Tuesday, Martinez will visit the Raiders on Friday, NFL reporter Jordan Schultz tweets. Martinez has a clear connection in Las Vegas, having worked with new Raiders DC Patrick Graham with the Giants and Packers.

Graham was in Green Bay as the team’s linebackers coach in 2018 and, after a year in Miami, was in New York when the Giants gave Martinez a three-year, $30.75MM contract in 2020. Martinez, 28, played two seasons on that deal, though the second one was interrupted by an ACL tear. The Giants cut bait two weeks ago, doing so despite taking on $7.5MM in Martinez dead money. The team had previously restructured Martinez’s deal this offseason.

When healthy, Martinez stands as one of the NFL’s most prolific tacklers. The former Packers fourth-round pick ripped off a four-season stretch in which he topped 140 tackles each year. He led the NFL with 144 stops in 2017 and notched 144 under Graham, while adding a career-high five sacks, the following year. In his lone healthy Giants slate, Martinez totaled 151 tackles (nine for loss) and three sacks. Big Blue’s Martinez and James Bradberry signings helped the team make a surprising defensive turnaround in 2020, when it ranked ninth in scoring defense in Graham’s debut season. That moved Graham’s name to the HC radar.

The Raiders currently have top inside linebacker Denzel Perryman sidelined due to an ankle injury. Perryman, who missed the Raiders’ Week 2 game against the Cardinals, has not practiced this week.

Ravens Worked Out LB Blake Martinez

Jason Pierre-Paul wasn’t the only big-name linebacker to visit the Ravens yesterday. Baltimore also worked out linebacker Blake Martinez, according to Clifton Brown of the team’s website.

[RELATED: Ravens Meet With OLB Jason Pierre-Paul]

Steven Means suffered a season-ending Achilles tear on Sunday, and with Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo both sidelined with their own Achilles injuries, Baltimore is down to only two outside linebackers in Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston. With limited depth, the Ravens decided to bring in a pair of veterans for auditions, and while no deal has been announced as of Wednesday night, coach John Harbaugh made it clear that he’d appreciate some reinforcement.

“That would be great,” Harbaugh replied when asked if the team has plans to sign an OLB. “I’ve already asked them once, and I’ll ask them again, ‘Are you in shape? Are you ready to go play? Are you ready to run around and help us win?’ Because that’s what I care about; we’re not trying to do anyone any favors here. We want guys who will come in and help us win right now. If you’re ready to do that – that’s really for any player – come on.”

Martinez led the NFL in tackles between 2017 and 2020, compiling 594 with the Packers and Giants. He collected another 23 tackles through the first three games of the 2021 season, but a torn ACL ended his season prematurely. He was cut by New York at the end of the 2022 preseason.

The Ravens did add some LB depth to their practice squad earlier today when they signed Brandon Copeland. The 31-year-old has seen time in 82 games since debuting in 2015, including 16 games with the Falcons in 2021.

Giants Release LB Blake Martinez, Claim G Tyre Phillips

The Giants had Blake Martinez on their initial 53-man roster, but as of Thursday afternoon, he is a free agent. New York released the veteran linebacker.

This removes a seventh-year veteran from Big Blue’s linebacking corps. Martinez accepted a pay cut this offseason, coming after he suffered an ACL tear early during the 2021 slate. As Jason Fitzgerald of tweets, this was a peculiar move by the Giants; the team basically guaranteed him an extra $2MM before ultimately cutting him. This is believed to be a mutual parting, per’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). Martinez was at practice Thursday but had been excused Wednesday.

Martinez’s departure will clear a path for Tyre Phillips, the former Ravens guard whom the Giants claimed earlier Thursday. The Ravens waived Phillips on Wednesday. The Ravens had hoped Phillips would clear waivers and return to the team via a practice squad agreement, per’s Jamison Hensley (on Twitter), but the former Baltimore starter did not make too far down the league’s priority list.

A former Packers fourth-round pick, Martinez posted four straight seasons of at least 140 tackles over his final three Green Bay years and his 2020 Giants debut. During an offseason that featured then-GM Dave Gettleman dole out big contracts to Martinez and James Bradberry, the former signed a three-year, $30MM deal. Following Martinez’s ACL tear, Gettleman stepped down. Big Blue’s new regime worked with Martinez to bring him back in March, but the team may be moving toward younger pieces at the lower-value linebacker spots.

Martinez, 28, played in two of the Giants’ preseason games after sitting out their August opener. Former seventh-rounder Tae Crowder is in line to start for the Giants, who used a fifth-round pick on Micah McFadden this year.

A 2020 third-round pick, Phillips, 25, started 13 games for the Ravens over his two seasons with the team. He became the team’s Week 1 starter as a rookie and was in position as Baltimore’s starting left guard to start last season as well. But multiple injuries derailed Phillips’ time in Maryland. The Ravens moved on with Ben Powers and Ben Cleveland as their non-Kevin Zeitler guard contingent.

The Giants have been busy up front this offseason. After injuries ransacked their 2021 O-line, the Giants added four first-string blockers (center Jon Feliciano, guards Mark Glowinski and Joshua Ezeudu, tackle Evan Neal). They also placed guard Shane Lemieux on IR Wednesday, sidelining him for at least four games. Phillips would represent a veteran alongside Ezeudu, a third-round rookie.