The Green Bay Packers were expecting to make a change at middle linebacker heading into the offseason. After beginning NFL free agency by signing Christian Kirksey, it was made a certainty that Blake Martinez would move on.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, former Packers linebacker Martinez will sign a three-year, $30 million contract with the New York Giants.
The Packers selected Martinez in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. and it proved to be a great selection. He managed to start in 57 of his 61 appearances with Green Bay and racked up 512 total tackles, 10 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 29 tackles for loss.
Martinez is coming off an impressive season for the Packers that featured him playing in almost 98 percent of their defensive snaps. The dependability he provided is something they will hope to receive from Kirksey as he has only appeared in nine games over his last two seasons.
Having consistent availability is a real asset, but it’s still important to provide a high-level impact. Martinez ranked 35th among inside linebackers by Pro Football Focus last season and it’s clear there was room for the Packers to improve.
It could be a challenge for Kirksey to match what Martinez provided in the durability department. Martinez has appeared in all 16 regular-season games during his three most recent seasons with the Packers. Meanwhile, Kirksey has been active for just nine games over the last two years.
If Christian Kirksey does manage to stay on the field consistently, there’s a lot to like about his potential impact for the Packers. He is a reliable contributor when it comes to stopping the run and is solid in pass coverage. There is reason to believe he could end up being an upgrade over Blake Martinez.
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