Before the days of De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker, the Green Bay Packers had a long run of struggling to find a reliable presence at inside linebacker. Now, one of those former inside linebackers has found a new home in the AFC.
Heading into Week 5, the Las Vegas Raiders are reportedly signing veteran linebacker Blake Martinez to their practice squad. NFL Network insider Ian Rapaport first reported the pending move on Friday, October 7. The former Packers and New York Giants linebacker had landed on the Raiders practice squad just a few days before.
“The #Raiders are planning to sign to LB Blake Martinez to the active roster, source said, and he’ll play this weekend,” Rapoport tweeted. “The former #Giants leader was just signed to the practice squad.”
Martinez served as a starter for the Packers from 2016 to 2019 before spending the last two seasons with the Giants.
How Did Blake Martinez End Up in Las Vegas?
It’s been a long up-and-down journey for Martinez in the pros. However, considering he wasn’t a top draft pick, the fact that Martinez is now in his seventh NFL season is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Coming out of high school in Tucson, Arizona, Martinez was a 3-star recruit with virtually no FBS offers. Teams including USC, Kansas State, and Arizona had shown interest, but Stanford was the only school to offer him a scholarship.
After limited action in his first two college seasons, Martinez burst onto the scene as a junior and senior. Over those two years, he finished with 240 combined tackles, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, and four forced fumbles. He was named first-team All-Pac-12 as a senior in 2015.
Martinez was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Packers, and became a full-time starter for Green Bay throughout his time with the team. In 2017, he was tied as the league leader with Preston Brown for total tackles with 144.
After the 2019 season, Martinez signed a three-year deal with the New York Giants, but was released prior to the start of 2022 after suffering a torn ACL in 2021. While it took him some time to find a new home, Martinez has finally found another opportunity to revive his NFL career with the Raiders.
Can Quay Walker Be the Next Great Packers Linebacker?
De’Vondre Campbell became a favorite of Packers fans last season after being named a first-team All-Pro in his first year in Green Bay. While Campbell was brought back on a contract extension, the Packers also spent a first-round pick on another physically imposing linebacker in Quay Walker.
The rookie linebacker was dominant at Georgia, playing a key role in the team’s national championship run. At 6’4″ and 241 pounds, his imposing presence in the middle of the defense is felt, and the Packers wanted to pair him with Campbell to create one of the most physically powerful linebacker tandems in the league.
So far, Walker is showing flashes at the NFL level. In four games, he’s picked up 25 combined tackles, 18 solo tackles, and a forced fumble. With the status of Adrian Amos up in the air as he recovers from a concussion, Walker will need to play an even bigger role on Sunday trying to stop Saquon Barkley and the Giants running game.