The Giants released one of their big free agent signings from 2020 on Thursday. What does this mean for the squad going forward? Why did this semi-stunning move happen?
On Thursday afternoon, the Giants decided to release Blake Martinez in what was somewhat of a shocking move for the squad. Martinez was expected to be one of the starting inside linebackers for the Giants going into this year.
In a recent article, I had said that Martinez would be key if this Giants defense wanted to be good this year. A lot of writers (with way more experience than me) were very surprised by this move. This leaves the defense with little depth at the Linebacker position. Currently, Tae Crowder and Micah Mcfadden are the starting inside linebackers for the Giants.
The Giants have released LB Blake Martinez. — Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 1, 2022
What Is The State Of The Giants’ Defense After The Release?
Carter Coughlin could be inserted for Micah Mcfadden at the starting inside linebacker position, but it is probably unlikely during week one due to Thibodeaux’s injury. While Crowder is somewhat solid in pass coverage, he is simply not good enough to start as the top interior linebacker on any NFL team. It’s clear the Giants will struggle to defend the run all year. New York will see this first-hand in their regular season opener when they face off against Derrick Henry and the Titans.
The trio of Crowder, Mcfadden, and Austin Calitro will struggle to tackle Henry. The team better hope Henry doesn’t get to the second level cause things will get bad quick for the defense if they can’t stop Henry at the line of scrimmage. Considering Henry is one of the best running backs in the league — if not the best — he will. This goes for any opponent that the team will face this year. It’s going to be harder for this defense to be good this year after losing a key player at a key position. This move gets even stranger when you consider this doesn’t help the Front Office solve their cap deficit.
OTC has the Giants saving $176,471 on the Martinez transaction. He was due $1.25M base that was fully gauranteed and had a prorated signing bonus left of $6.25M. He also had $1M in per game roster bonuses, a number I believe was for the season, not per game given his cap hit. — Patricia Traina (@Patricia_Traina) September 1, 2022
This move would have made a lot more sense if the team had cut Martinez in the spring before they restructured his contract. In early March, Martinez restructured his deal with the Giants to help their dire cap situation. Martinez took down his cap hit from around 14 million dollars to around 8 million dollars. In exchange for the restructure, the team guaranteed two million dollars of his contract.
Cutting Martinez now seems like a blunder. It seems that the Giants’ new regime and Martinez wanted to make it work in the offseason. While Martinez needed to work his way back after injuring himself in 2021, it seemed like he would have that shot. The reason for the cut seems to be a “disconnect with [the] new regime”. It seems like the Giants should have cut Blake Martinez from the beginning.
The Giants don’t really have a lot of options when it comes to restructuring contracts. They could restructure Kenny Golladay’s contract again but that is unlikely considering they already have done that this offseason. They could also trade Darius Slayton which is likely either way.
The Giants could make minor cuts afterward to get to around 2.5 million in salary cap space needed to get to. A suggestion made by Patrica Trania was to restructure Leonard Williams’ contract. The Giants would be adding void years (and giving future cap space) to Williams’s contract. Out of all the choices outlined, this seems like the best move. Finally, the team picked up Offensive lineman Trye Phillps as they had an open roster spot because of this move. Phillps was recently waived by the Ravens.