Eleven Green Bay Packers are set to hit free agency in 2020. Blake Martinez is one of the most important.
Inside linebacker was long the Green Bay Packers‘ top position of need, each and every offseason. They went with Jake Ryan in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but still needed to find an upgrade a year later.
In the same round as Ryan a year later, the choice was Blake Martinez, who has quietly become a key member of Green Bay’s defense.
Let’s talk about consistency. Martinez has made exactly 144 tackles in each of the past two seasons. He led the NFL in that category in 2017, finishing second behind Dairus Leonard last season.
But where he’s most improved each year is as a pass rusher. In 2018, Martinez more than doubled his career total in sacks with five, and also quarterback hits with six.
Martinez turns 26 next year, entering the prime of his career. As a solid, reliable part of the Packers defense, he’s a player the team will want to re-sign.
And it makes the 2019 season a particularly important one. If he can continue to improve his game, as he has done each year, his value will rise. In a new-look defense with talent at almost every position, Martinez has the opportunity to establish himself as a leader at the heart of Mike Pettine’s defense.
Martinez will make a lot of tackles, but if he can build on last year’s work as a pass rusher, he could be the number one inside linebacker hitting free agency in 2020, which will make it difficult for the Packers to bring him back.
Martinez has only missed three games in his career, all of which were in his rookie season. It’s not easy to find a player who is consistent throughout the season, and that’s what the Packers have with Martinez.
But with another good season, it might be difficult to keep him in 2020.