Packers 2020 free agency preview: Blake Martinez

One big question facing the Green Bay Packers this offseason is what to do with starting linebacker Blake Martinez.

Selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Blake Martinez has been a solid contributor in the middle of the Packers defense under both Mike Pettine and Dom Capers.

Martinez regularly finishes near the league-lead in tackles. In 2017, he was tied for first place. In four seasons with the Packers, Martinez has made 512 tackles, 10 sacks, three interceptions and 17 pass defenses.

Overall, Martinez is a solid player who helps get the defense in the right position, and he occasionally contributes with big plays. You can do far worse than Martinez as a starter at inside linebacker.

That said, his price tag could force GM Brian Gutekunst to move on.

Spotrac estimates that Martinez’s market value could earn him a deal worth around $16.3 million a year in free agency. If negotiations get anywhere close to that number, Gutekunst should walk away. That would make Martinez one of the highest-paid players at the position, and for that price the Packers would need him to become a difference-maker.

The Packers’ salary cap is healthy and they should have plenty of room to work with in free agency, but handing Martinez a big-money deal would eat into the resources available, and spending that kind of money to bring him back simply isn’t worth it.

Zach Kruse of Packers Wire tweeted an interesting statistic from Sports Info Solutions which shows why Martinez isn’t worth such a big deal.

Martinez’s struggles in coverage are a concern. According to Pro Football Reference, when targeted in coverage in 2019, Martinez allowed a completion percentage of 83.8 percent and a quarterback rating of 102.1, giving up 570 yards and two touchdowns. That’s slightly better than his 2018 production when he allowed a 118.9 passer rating and gave up five touchdowns.

If the price is lower than expected, re-signing Martinez and bringing in another linebacker who is good in coverage would make sense. But my guess is Martinez has played his final snap in Green Bay.

And with that in mind, inside linebacker becomes an even bigger need. There isn’t a ton of talent in free agency or the draft outside of a few players, so the Packers might need to spend money or use an early pick at the position.

Should the Packers re-sign Martinez?

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