The Green Bay Packers defense will look a little different in 2020.
The Packers, presumably believing Christian Kirksey is an upgrade in the middle, signed the linebacker to a two-year, $16 million deal according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. Kirksey was cut by the Cleveland Browns earlier this month.
With that transaction, Packers inside linebacker Blake Martinez is almost assuredly moving on in free agency.
Packers add Christian Kirksey
The question with Kirksey isn’t talent, but health.
Kirksey played in only nine games the past two seasons due to injuries. That was one reason the Browns decided to move on this offseason.
However, Kirksey was remarkably durable before that. He logged 100 percent of the Browns’ defensive snaps in 2016 and 2017 according to Pro Football Reference. He posted 148 and 138 tackles for the Browns over those two seasons.
The Packers made a significant investment in Kirksey, figuring his injury history the past two seasons was a case of bad luck.
Blake Martinez likely moving on
Martinez hadn’t missed a game in three years and became a solid inside linebacker, albeit one without a high ceiling. Martinez ranked 35th among inside linebackers with 600 snaps in Pro Football Focus’ grades last season, and tied for 13th with 15 missed tackles according to PFF. He wasn’t a bad player, but the Packers obviously felt they could do better.
The market for inside linebackers isn’t generally strong, but Martinez can test out the market. The Packers decided they had a better option with Kirksey.
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