9:50 PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants starting middle linebacker Blake Martinez will return for the 2022 season after agreeing Friday to a reworked contract, a source told ESPN.
Martinez’s deal is similar to that of wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who also took a significant pay cut to return earlier this week. The moves were necessary as the Giants try to get financially healthy ahead of the start of the new league year Wednesday.
New York began this offseason more than $11 million over the cap. They have since shed close to $25 million off the cap by cutting tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith, running back Devontae Booker and punter Riley Dixon. Shepard and Martinez took pay cuts to reduce their numbers.
Martinez, 28, was set to make $8.525 million on the final year of his contract after tearing the ACL in his left knee last season. He would have counted $14.025 million against the salary cap. The Giants are expected to save almost $6 million by restructuring his contract.
Martinez wanted to remain in New York despite a new regime and more uncertain future, and his restructured deal was the final solution after some conversation between the two sides throughout the week.
Martinez signed a three-year deal for $30 million in the 2020 offseason. He restructured his contract for cap purposes last season to move $3.5 million of dead money into this year. That made his contract in its previous form more difficult for the Giants to carry. But that all came under the previous regime, which had Patrick Graham as the defensive coordinator. Martinez and Graham had a good relationship, having worked together previously in Green Bay.
Martinez’s first season with the Giants was perhaps the best of his career. He had 140 tackles, three sacks, five passes defended, an interception and two forced fumbles. It was his fourth straight season with 130 or more tackles.
Martinez has played six seasons with the Giants and Green Bay Packers. He has started 76 of 80 career games.
Source: ESPN NFL