Where Will Leading the NFL in Tackles Lead Blake Martinez?

Blake Martinez is a polarizing name for Green Bay's fanbase. Even still, there's no discounting the role he's playing on defense in a contract year. 

He leads the NFL in tackles. Will that lead him to a new contract in Green Bay? It’s time to talk about Blake Martinez. All the way back in June, I wrote about Blake Martinez and the team’s inside linebacker position. This was before his draft classmate Dean Lowry got his new contract, before Oren Burks suffered a preseason injury that kept him sidelined for four weeks, and before the Packers brought in B.J. Goodson to be the run-stuffing complement to Martinez in the middle of the field. 

Through seven games, the Packers find themselves at 6-1, and Martinez leads the league in tackles with 76. That’s seven more than Jordan Hicks (ARI) and Bobby Wagner (SEA) who are tied for second with 69. 

Back in that June article, I discussed all of the big-name inside linebackers who received mega contracts this past offseason. C.J. Mosley ($85 million) and Eric Kendricks ($50 million) topped the list. 

I also mentioned some potential options for the Packers to play opposite Martinez, or in place of, should he walk next season. Those names included: James Crawford (gone), Ty Summers (no defensive snaps this season), Josh Jones (gone), and Oren Burks (missed the first four games of the season). 

What’s more, Martinez had played 100% of defensive snaps thus far in the season before dropping to 94% of snaps during the Raiders game. In that game, he had a forced fumble that resulted in a touchback (that led to a touchdown) for Green Bay, and he tied his career-high with 16 tackles on the day. 

Martinez is set to hit free agency in 2020, along with quite a few other big names in Green Bay. The biggest names on the list are Mason Crosby and Bryan Bulaga, without question, but there are plenty of other names that the Packers might not be ready to let go of, including: Kyler Fackrell, Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, Marcedes Lewis, Geronimo Allison, Tramon Williams, Tony Brown, Lucas Patrick, Danny Vitale, and Jake Kumerow.

This isn’t including the impending Kenny Clark contract that should make him one of the highest-paid defensive linemen in the NFL, but the Packers bought themselves some time with that one by utilizing his fifth-year option. 

And, this also doesn’t factor in the looming 2021 free agent class that includes heavy-hitters like Kevin King, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, David Bakhtiari, and Corey Linsley.

While the Packers will have money to work with and are notorious for negotiating the salary cap better than perhaps anyone in the league, that begs the inevitable question then, where does Blake Martinez fit?

Martinez is a vocal leader on defense, both in the locker room and given his role wearing the communication headset on the field. In my June article, I included a quote from Aaron Rodgers referring to Martinez as the “quarterback of the defense.”

While the Packers have taken swings at the inside linebacker position both through free agency (Antonio Morrison and B.J. Goodson are two immediate names) and the draft (third-rounder Oren Burks and seventh-rounder Ty Summers), these players have proven to be complementary options alongside Martinez in the middle of the field. No one has demonstrated the ability to play in place of Martinez, and that’s a big deal. 

In his career, Martinez has 433 total tackles, eight sacks, 15 passes defensed, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He isn’t as splashy as names like Luke Kuechly or even Danny Trevathan, but he’s been one of Green Bay’s most consistent defenders since he entered the league. 

We all knew going into this season that the Packers were going to have a big decision to make regarding Blake Martinez, and he’s a player that fans have an incredibly divided opinion on. But what can’t be denied is the level at which Martinez is playing through seven games of the 2019 season. He shed a few pounds, added some muscle, and he’s leading the NFL in tackles. Everything Green Bay has asked him to do, he’s done, including at one point playing with what felt like a new ILB companion every week. 

If Martinez expects a bank-breaking contract like C.J. Mosley, he certainly won’t find it in Green Bay, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if Martinez signs a new contract before the season ends. The Packers historically like to lock up their own in-season, and Martinez likely would be no different. 

He may not have the flashy sack dances or the interception numbers, but it’s impossible to deny that steady, reliable Blake Martinez has been one of the unsung heroes of this revitalized defense.  

 

----------------------------

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

NFL Categories: 
6 points

Comments (54)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Daren726's picture

October 25, 2019 at 05:38 am

I don’t get all the Martinez hate. He’s not only a leading tackler, but also runs the defense. He has the mic helmet and tells the rest of the defense where to line up. I’m not sure we have any one else who could do it as well as him. Some complain his tackles are late, but I think that is due to him covering for others missed tackles and having to clean up the mess. Keep up the great work , Blake!! You’ll get paid.

+ REPLY
13 points
15
2
Qoojo's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:40 am

I not so sure that there is a lot of hate for him. I hear writers talk more about how he is "polarizing" than I see it in comments.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
Lphill's picture

October 25, 2019 at 05:41 am

Can’t break the bank for Martinez or Clark make them a reasonable offer and let them decide both positions can be addressed via the draft or free agency , it’s a business.

+ REPLY
-8 points
2
10
optimisticfan's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:09 am

Lphill,
I’ll agree on your logic for Martinez (depending on how much money we are talking about). I don’t agree for Clark. If they offer Clark what seems like big money now he will more than likely be more than worth it. Clark is projected to be a difference maker for years to come and is young and just coming into his prime.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
Houndog's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:14 am

Yes phill,
It is a business, and fortunately the GB Packers are not in the business of padding some Real Estate mogul or Oil Man's pockets like most other teams.
The GB Packers are in the business of winning football games, and it takes good players to do that.

+ REPLY
1 points
3
2
Leatherhead's picture

October 25, 2019 at 03:09 pm

The fewer holes we create by letting starters leave in FA, the fewer draft picks we have to use to replace them. That means we can use picks to strengthen the team instead of filling holes.

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
Oppy's picture

October 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Clark is a rare talent. He is worthy of a great contract.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

October 25, 2019 at 06:01 am

Like Daren726 above I've never really understood why so many are so unhappy with Martinez. I mean there's plenty of reasons I personally like Martinez and want to see him re-signed.

He came in as a rookie and earned the starting ILB spot and hasn't missed a game IIRC since or at least in the last 3 seasons. He's been one of the TOP tacklers in the NFL the last 2 plus seasons, in the ENTIRE NFL, not just the Packers. On a football team without any other PROVEN option at ILB, why in the hell would the Packers not want to resign him? I think it's really that simple.

+ REPLY
18 points
18
0
Spock's picture

October 25, 2019 at 07:01 am

NP, I agree with you both. If IRC correctly he was the NFL tackle leader last year. The biggest complaint of Packers' fans is tackling, yet some don't want to resign the one guy who does that well? Blake had a rare "bad" game last week yet still made some plays. Keep him if the money isn't a problem. Guys who can 'quarterback' the defense aren't easy to replace.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Packers2020's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:09 am

Nick,

Of course they want to resign him. The question is at what price?

Like Maggie said, if he wants a huge contract like CJ Mosely we likely let him walk. We have other priorities like Clark and even possibly Bulaga now that we need to get taken care of as well.

We will see how it shakes out.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:37 am

THIS ^^^

At what price? I've got Martinez as being worth $9.03M AAV. That's Danny Trevathan money adjusted for cap inflation.

I like Martinez.
I don't hate Martinez.
I don't love Martinez.

PFF graded him as a 65. That is highish average. Grades around 68 turn to above average. That's seems spot on to me. He's average and probably a bit above average, but not truly solid.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
CJ Bauckham's picture

October 25, 2019 at 12:12 pm

I agree with that take. I've always viewed Martinez as an above avg to good mlb #1, and a good to great mlb #2

Some of his intangibles (availability, leadership) push him a little higher than his pff grading, for me at least

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Lare's picture

October 25, 2019 at 06:40 am

Martinez makes a lot of tackles. My question is, if he isn't there making those tackles who would be making them? In many cases it would end up being the defensive backs and heaven knows the Packers have enough trouble keeping them healthy.

I think Martinez should be re-signed but it all comes down to how much he and his agent want.

+ REPLY
10 points
11
1
Guam's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:03 am

Your last sentence says it all. Martinez is a good solid reliable player who should be resigned at a price that reflects that he is just that ($8-9 million per year?) and not an elite defender. If he and his agent want elite money, that is going to be a problem.

My concern is that the Packers have not already signed him a la Lowery. That suggests that the Packers and Martinez are apart on salary (valuation). While I don't want to see Martinez leave, that may be a possibility.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
dobber's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:10 am

Tackles can be a misleading stat. Certainly the fact that Martinez plays so many snaps works in his favor with regard to racking up tackles. Undersized ILB hybrids don't often play enough run-downs to build up those numbers and pluggers don't play enough passing downs (and are frequently tasked with taking on blockers). Martinez being athletic enough to play in space and big enough to play on run-downs (and playing in an odd-front defense) certainly works in his favor.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Gort's picture

October 25, 2019 at 06:59 am

The problem at ILB is everyone not named Blake Martinez.

+ REPLY
10 points
10
0
LeotisHarris's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:48 am

I dunno, Gort. If they were all named Blake Martinez the Packers would have an entire new set of challenges. Thinkng back to the days of Mike McCoy and M.C. McCoy, that was confusing enough for fans, but I guess they worked that out, as did George Foreman with all his sons. Actually, now that I give it more thought, you're right. This would definitely sow confusion with opposing offenses. The Packers should consider legally changing the names of all defensive players to Blake Martinez.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:41 am

I was concerned about this with my children but I went the opposite way, giving them very distinctive names. I am not so sure it was appreciated. Both my sons will have to spell out their names every time someone else needs to write it down since ain't nobody gonna spell them correctly on their own.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Gort's picture

October 25, 2019 at 12:11 pm

How many kids does Goerge Foremen have that are also George?
I would like to have Troy and Joe stumble through calling that game!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
LeotisHarris's picture

October 26, 2019 at 06:14 pm

George Foreman has five sons: George Jr., George III (“Monk”), George IV (“Big Wheel”), George V (“Red”), and George VI (“Little Joey”).

I'm a bit concerned about Aikman. He's not looking healthy these days.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

October 25, 2019 at 06:12 pm

Not sure the Smiths would like that...:-)

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Houndog's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:02 am

Well said Gort,
Imagine what Martinez could be doing with another legitimate ILB along side him. How often during any broadcast do you hear the name of the 'other' ILB? Not often if at all.
Imagine what the Packers' defense could be!

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
blacke00's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:45 am

Ditto Houndog, This team needs a "really" legit ILB along side Matinez. The problem is they had plenty of chance to upgrade that bunch and haven't done it...Why?

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
sam1's picture

October 25, 2019 at 07:17 am

To me hating on Martinez on the D is kind of like Hating on Rodgers or Adams on the O, both are really important to both parts! Sign him, who makes more tackles and is more reliable week to week! Guess people just need something often to pick on!

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
scullyitsme's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:04 am

To me it’s not whether Martinez is good. He is. It’s just whether or not we have to pay him great money. If we have to do that I would cringe some. Either way drafting a stud middle linebacker for once should still be a priority.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
fthisJack's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:20 am

all the stud ILB are gone by the time GB drafts. and this year they may be drafting last.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
scullyitsme's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:47 am

Let’s hope

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
hodge555's picture

October 25, 2019 at 02:32 pm

I'm all for picking last and what that implies :-)
ILBs can still be had then though as it's just not a sexy position to draft so I wouldn't rule it out for the right prospect.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
splitpea1's picture

October 25, 2019 at 11:15 am

The reliability and leadership factors (particularly the former), I think, are the biggest things Martinez has going for him--so we may have to pay him as long as it's not outrageous. But we definitely need someone to complement him in a major way, whether it's through the draft or free agency. I don't see anyone else on the current roster stepping up to fill the void at this point.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:30 am

Martinez is not Nitschke, Butkis, Lewis etc. Thats the problem. He will get his money. The packers have to pay him.

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
dobber's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:06 am

If there was a talented, athletic ILB waiting in the wings to take over, I think they'd let Martinez walk so the Packers could use his cap space elsewhere. Instead, they have oft-injured (Burks) and untested (Summers, et al.), and little else. ILB has been a wasteland in GB for years. Martinez is very good at what he does, but--like many players of his type--fans window shop for some of the other, more athletic ILB in the league and downplay the role he fills for the Packers. Some get after him for making tackles downfield (which I've never understood), but watch him play: many times he's coming off a block or coming across the field to mop up the tackle (hustle plays). He's consistent and always available, even if people criticize his lack of "flash" plays. I think they'll be able to keep him without breaking the bank...IF that's what they want to do.

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:51 am

It would be nice if Martinez were faster, but he's by no means slow.
It would be nice if he had more thump, but he's a good tackler.
It would be nice if he had more change of direction, but he can cover ordinary guys.
It would be nice if he diagnosed a bit quicker, but he's shown that in the past.
It would be nice if he had more ability to take on TEs and OL, but he's okay and hustles.

Yes, better at some things would be nice, but he can do everything you want and ILB to do , and all of it reasonably well. He has no abject weaknesses. He sounds like a good guy who is liked in the locker room and has no known issues off the field.

I say keep him if it isn't stupid money.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
Packers2020's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:16 am

This is my concern with Blake Martinez:

Does he tackle well? Yes.
Is he the leader of the defense? Yes.
Is he a solid LB? Yes.
Can he cover TE's and RB's over the middle consistently? No.
Is he an elite LB? No.

An elite ILB in todays NFL can stuff the run and cover TE's and RB's. Martinez cannot do that consistently enough; therefore, he is not an elite ILB.

He would be worth about 8-9M per year. No more. I like Blake but if he wants 12M or something crazy then we have to let him walk.

+ REPLY
4 points
6
2
Jonathan Spader's picture

October 25, 2019 at 09:34 am

Definition of elite "a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society."

Martinez is an elite tackler and run stopper. His role is to communicate to the defense, stop the run, blitz, and tackle. He's not great in coverage but that's not his role. That was supposed to be what a hybrid ILB like Burks did. You don't have to be good at everything to be elite. You just have to be really good at what you do and Martonez is that.

Pay the man and find him a compliment piece in the 2020 draft or through FA.

+ REPLY
-2 points
2
4
Packers2020's picture

October 26, 2019 at 08:54 am

We can agree to disagree, Spader.

Elite to me is great at everything and has no weaknesses.

Great run stopper? Rewatch the tapes of the games this year and last year. Martinez is not an elite run stopper. He gets pushed out of the play way too often and does not react quickly enough to stuff runs close to the line of scrimmage. What rank does the D have against stopping the run this year? 24th, I believe.

I would have to disagree with your comments.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Since'61's picture

October 25, 2019 at 10:01 am

My take is that Martinez is a solid player who shows up and plays every week. He is not an elite player but he ranges from average to good consistently. He also strikes me as the type of player who will continue to play hard even after he gets his next contract for whatever amount he signs for. Rather than some players who disappear (Nick Perry, the former player not the CHTV blogger) after signing a big contract.

The questions is how much will he/his agent be asking for? IMO he falls into the range of a $6 - 8 million per year player. If that is the case the Packers should resign him and look to draft an elite type of ILB during the offseason, if there is one available when the Packers draft.

The other approach would be to rebuild the ILB group via FA similar to how the OLB group was rebuilt by Gute during the 2019 offseason. However, this would probably too much for the Packers to take on with their cap space unless a number of players were either chucked and/or not resigned.

Another factor to be considered is Bulaga. Should be resigned and as usual for how much? If I need to choose between protecting Rodgers or keeping Martinez I going with Bulaga for at least another 2-3 seasons. Martinez is reliable but there is always another guy like him coming along. Gute and MLF have made good decisions so far, I'm confident they will continue to do so. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Travis72's picture

October 27, 2019 at 10:31 pm

I think you put it perfectly and I completely agree

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 25, 2019 at 10:12 am

Tonyan and Tony Brown are ERFA. They can be kept cheap.

Lucas Patrick will be an RFA. Not sure that helps. He was a UDFA, so the low tender doesn't help. The 2nd round tender is $3.27M (per OTC estimate). Patrick showed he can play OC (AR plays a pretty good centerfield with errant shotgun snaps, and Aaron Jones is alert). I don't think he can play OG, but I could be wrong. Lane Taylor is under contract but does have $4.55M cap savings if released.

There is not a ton of cap space, but there's enough. Martinez at $9M or $10M AAV might have a $6.5M first-year cap hit, Bulaga re-signed for $11M has a $9M 1st yr hit, Crosby re-signed has a $3M hit, and Clark is already at $7.69M so extending him might add $4M or $5M to his scheduled cap number. 6.5 + 9 + 3 + 4.5 = $23M. GB has $25M or so, but could generate $8M more by cutting Graham and $4.55M more by releasing or trading Taylor.

Allison, Ryan Grant, Goodson are not re-signed.
Lewis and Fackrell are maybes. Shouldn't be more than $2M each.
Ibraheim Campbell has not played yet, so more data is needed.
Tramon Williams would be missed. He is playing well.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
Since'61's picture

October 25, 2019 at 04:14 pm

Yes TGR. I read this article last evening and I thought they did a very nice job with it. Good to know that the organization has moved on from the MM/TT days in just about every possible way. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

October 25, 2019 at 07:13 pm

Just change the dates from 2019 to 2007. Everything old is new again. Still, good overview. Too bad no reporter wants to report about how the Packers got there..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 25, 2019 at 11:33 am

If his name was Eddie I would call him "Steady Eddie", a guy who has shown up to play every week, been a positive in both the clubhouse and the community, and played above average at his position. Not necessarily what we call a "difference maker", but a player who will make your team better.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 25, 2019 at 11:35 am

Accidental repeat. Sorry.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Gort's picture

October 25, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Blake Martinez is essentially A.J. Hawk. Hawk was a tackling machine that many folks liked to hate. He was great right to when he got slow. Even then he could tackle a freight train, if he could catch up with it.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
wisjeremy's picture

October 25, 2019 at 03:07 pm

Agreed, but honestly, I think Hawk was a little quicker than Martinez. Both solid players in general, you can always count on them to make the tackle.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Gort's picture

October 25, 2019 at 08:02 pm

Hawk was 5th overall and came in with huge expectations. Never spectacular, always solid.
Martinez was 131st overall and came in with limited expectations. Thus far, never spectacular, always solid.

OBTW, maybe much of the discussion in other threads where guys like Hawk and Martinez get limited respect is why CMIII didn't want to play inside - no respect / no ESPN highlights.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
byu.tech's picture

October 25, 2019 at 04:57 pm

martinez is very bad in coverage and also misses key tackles. we are always very weak in the middle of the defense

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
Travis72's picture

October 26, 2019 at 03:54 pm

I agree 100%

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

October 25, 2019 at 07:09 pm

I think it all depends on as TGR stated, how much cap space does the Packers have, and how do they want to use it. Besides that, the Packers have undergone a major overhaul of their defensive system, and the schemes they run in it. I sign Martinez because he is a good, smart, steady player who fits their current scheme. But under Pettine, the Packers have looked for more hybrids (sounds very Sci Fi..) across the entire defense, so will Martinez fit a scheme that looks for players to play more than one spot on a defense. We'll see...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Travis72's picture

October 26, 2019 at 04:06 pm

I think he is average and that’s not good enough. Draft an ILB early in the draft so we get one that’s fast enough to play sideline to sideline and also cover the TE or sign a free agent.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Gort's picture

October 26, 2019 at 05:54 pm

Leading the entire league in tackles is far better than average.

EDIT - Just looked on a NFL stats web site. There are over 420 players in the NFL with at least 10 tackles thus far in 2019 and some average guy in Green Bay named Blake leads all of them.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Travis72's picture

October 26, 2019 at 07:16 pm

How many impact plays has he been I’m in? How many turnovers has he caused over the last 2 years. Look it up. He’s average!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Gort's picture

October 26, 2019 at 07:33 pm

Every tackle is an impact play.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

October 26, 2019 at 05:37 pm

Martinez is questionable for Sunday's game due to a hand/wrist injury. So far, his best ability has been availability. Be interesting to see if that continues this week.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.