The Giants Guys

What Do the Giants See in Kareem Martin?

When the 2018 NFL free agency period broke in March, one of the first players the New York Giants signed was former Arizona Cardinal OLB/DT/DT Kareem Martin.

Uh, who?

Martin was signed to a three-year, $21 million contract by GM Dave Gettleman assumingly on the recommendation of DC James Bettcher, who coached Martin in Arizona the past few seasons.

“(Adding players who know the system) always helps,” Gettleman said in March. “Kareem can share information. He’ll be playing with O.V. (Olivier Vernon) and obviously his familiarity and comfortability with the system will help him share knowledge and share the tips and things that he has learned. The short answer is yes, it’s a big help.”

But that’s where the advantage to signing Martin appears to end. A third round pick out of North Carolina back in 2014, Martin started just 14 of the 56 games he played in the desert and recorded marginal numbers: 46 tackles (35 solo) 4.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and nine special teams tackles. Hardly seems worth the money to the naked eye.

The 6’6″, 272-pound Martin had a slow start to his career with the Cardinals and last season saw his snap count rose to 457, which is approximately half the team’s defensive plays. He is currently slated for a part-time role here with the Giants as well.

“(Bettcher) is an attacking coordinator,” Martin said. “He likes to blitz a lot, which is always helpful for guys like me. I like the versatility of the system. I’ve played a little bit of everywhere. I’ve played outside standup, I’ve played a little bit of inside pass rushing. Being able to be all over the field, it’s not a one-time thing, so it doesn’t get boring. It’s a fun and exciting defense, especially for the position that I play.”

Martin is currently listed on the depth chart as the team’s starting left defensive end but he’s up against some stiff competition for playing time. Veteran Kerry Wynn and rookie B.J. Hill are both capable of displacing him in camp. Martin can be used at OLB but with Vernon and rookie Lorenzo Carter ahead of him, there may not be enough reps to go around.

This signing appears to be one of a stepping stone for the Giants. They brought Martin in to help the others acclimate to the new 3-4 defensive scheme being introduced by Bettcher this season which is why he sits in on meeting for both the linemen and the linebackers. He will also serve as a rotational player at both DE and OLB. Martin is also valuable on special teams and Gettleman has been focused on improving the Giants’ sagging unit.

The Giants feel they are getting an ascending player and they might be right. Sometimes it takes a few years for the light to go on for a player. That could be the case for Martin.

“They’re getting a guy who is going to come in here and work hard every day,” said Martin when asked what he brings to the Giants. “He’s going to know his job, he’s going to be accountable. That’s a big thing in this defense and in this league in general, being accountable and getting the trust of your teammates, knowing that I’m going to get the job done. When my number is called, to blitz, to drop, to do whatever I’m going to get it done.”

And that is the recurring theme you’ll hear from all the Giants players this summer. It’s a team-first atmosphere with the players all seeking ways in which they can contribute.





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