Packers should let Blake Martinez test free agency in 2020

Green Bay Packers, Blake Martinez (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Blake Martinez (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers should be willing to let Blake Martinez walk in free agency.

Inside linebacker is a position of need for the Green Bay Packers this offseason, and it could become an even more urgent need should starter Blake Martinez walk in free agency.

Martinez has been a solid part of the Packers defense since being selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Whether Martinez stays or goes, the Packers need upgrades at the position.

GM Brian Gutekunst said he’d like to bring back each of Green Bay’s free agents, but that’s not often realistic. And given the money Martinez could make in free agency, Gutekunst should let him test the market and walk if he’s offered a good deal elsewhere.

Martinez is a solid player but not an elite one. And for that reason, it will be difficult to match other potential deals from around the league. Spotrac has estimated that Martinez’s average annual salary will be $16.3 million when he signs with a team in free agency. That’s far too high.

Gutekunst would be better off using that money at other positions, adding a cheaper free agent at linebacker and then doubling down at the position in the draft.

When it comes to re-signing their own free agents, the priorities should be bringing back Bryan Bulaga and Mason Crosby. After that, it’s all about value.

Gutekunst spoke briefly about the inside linebacker position at his press conference this week.

“We’re going to take a long look at the inside linebacker group and make sure we’re squared away there,” Gutekunst said.

If the price is right, a case can be made for keeping Martinez and using an early-round pick to upgrade the position. With a more athletic, fast linebacker next to him, they could form a strong duo in the middle of the defense.

But if Martinez makes anywhere close to the money he’s expected to be offered, the Packers should move on.