For four seasons, the Blake Martinez manned the middle of the Green Bay defense, looking like a budding NFL star who could carry the linebacking legacy of players like A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews. He led the Packers in tackles in his second year, 2017, and established himself quickly as a starter.
He left the team to sign a three-year, $30 million deal with the Giants, but was waived after injuries limited him to three games in 2021. Martinez signed on with the Raiders, beginning with a spot on the practice squad, but worked his way up to a starting spot last year. Then, a little less than a year ago, he abruptly retired.
Now, he has changed his mind. After an eventful year, ex-Packer Blake Martinez wants back in the NFL and has un-retired, signing on to the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers, according to NFL insider Jordan Schultz.
Wrote Schultz on Twitter (X): “Veteran LB Blake Martinez is coming out of retirement and is signing with the #Panthers, sources tell @BleacherReport. Martinez, who has over 700 career tackles and 39 TFLs, was last with the Raiders after spending his first six years with the Packers and Giants.”
Martinez, who has over 700 career tackles and 39 TFLs, was last with the Raiders after spending his first six years with the Packers and Giants. pic.twitter.com/3SpZlQMPHt
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) November 6, 2023
Packers’ Blake Martinez Never Developed Into Star
The Packers made Blake Martinez their fourth-round draft pick in 2016, coming out of Stanford. After his excellent initial impression, his play leveled off and he never developed into a star with Green Bay, which let him depart to the Giants because they did not want to pay that much money for him.
Martinez probably made a goof right from the get-go with the Packers, when he unwittingly took No. 50 in his first season. That was the number of Hawk, who had been in the position for nine years and was well-liked on the team and in the community.
Martinez later explained, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “They gave me like 12 options and I was just kind of going through it and not really thinking the No. 50 and I was like, ’50’s a great number. Then all of a sudden, everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you’ve got A.J. Hawk’s number.’ I was like, ‘Ohhhh, yep, here we go.’
“But it’s a great number and I’ll do everything I can to kind of live up to his legacy and all of what he’s done.”
Pokemon Scandal Struck Over Summer
There could be more to ex-Packer Blake Martinez’s return than just football. When he left the game a year ago, he had gotten interested in the buying and selling of Pokemon cards, which he found could be big business. According to CNBC, Martinez’s ‘side-hustle’ company sold one Pokemon card for more than $677,000 in March.
CNBC reported that Martinez made more than $8 million from the reselling of cards. But then trouble hit when his company, Blake’s Breaks, was banned from the trading site Whatnot in August for allegedly scamming customers.
“After a comprehensive investigation into (Blakes Breaks)’ operations, we have decided to permanently remove the seller from our platform, including the individual employees involved in misconduct,” the site announced.
He denied wrongdoing, but still, it was an odd turn of events for Blake Martinez, Packers Man of the Year nominee from 2019.
But now, Martinez’s side hustle is back on the side, and he is back on the field.