Giants GM Joe Schoen cut linebacker Blake Martinez on Thursday, hours after saying “we like the guys that are here, the 53 players that are on the roster.”
Schoen later said he couldn’t rule out anything that made the team better, when asked about wide receiver Darius Slayton, whom he said would “be on the team Week 1.”
“Right now the 53 today, I’m not gonna say Week 1 on any of these guys,” Schoen said. “You never know what’s gonna happen. But we like our 53 right now. We’re gonna move forward with our 53.
“If there’s opportunities available that we need to pursue then we will, whether it’s Darius or anybody else,” Schoen said. “Everybody’s competing on a daily basis for their position because we want the best 53.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what led to Martinez’s release on Thursday specifically. But he had been absent from Wednesday’s practice for personal reasons.
He returned to practice Thursday and was actually the first player to welcome the media back into the Giants’ locker room.
“Welcome back!” he said with a smile, walking the other way. “Someone made my locker messy.”
It’s possible Martinez asked to be released.
Former Giants head coach Joe Judge now coaches the New England Patriots’ offense, and former Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham is the Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive coordinator. They valued Martinez and named him captain in both his seasons in New York.
Schoen also had guaranteed Martinez $2 million this season when he took a paycut in March to stay with the Giants. So Thursday’s release wasn’t any real gain for the organization from a financial standpoint.
On the other hand, new Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale did not seem to favor Martinez throughout camp, even though Martinez still had been practicing with the starters in his ramp up from last season’s torn left ACL.
Former GM Dave Gettleman originally signed Martinez as a free agent to a three-year, $30.75 million deal with $19 million guaranteed in the spring of 2020.
The Giants restructured Martinez’s contract twice: once in 2021, pushing $3.5 million in cap dollars to this year; and again with his pay cut in the spring, adding $2 million in guarantees to 2023 that had not existed in his original deal.
The Giants’ inside linebacker room now is Tae Crowder, rookie Micah McFadden, Austin Calitro, Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown. Rookie sixth-round pick Darrian Beavers was having a great camp before tearing his left ACL in a preseason game.
The Giants filled the roster spot by claiming guard/tackle Tyre Phillips off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens. The third-year pro has 22 regular season games, 13 starts and two postseason starts under his belt.
Schoen also cut four players from the practice squad: OT Garrett McGhin, OT Roy Mbaeteka, CB Darren Evans and S Nate Meadors. And he signed four to the practice squad: OL Wyatt Davis, DE Henry Mondeaux, S Tony Jefferson and LB Charles Wiley.