Blake Martinez
Dennis Schneidler | USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have surprisingly cut linebacker Blake Martinez with the regular-season opener just 10 days away.

Martinez was set to be the team’s top inside linebacker after missing much of last year with a torn ACL, which he suffered in Week 3. General manager Joe Schoen, who didn’t even sign Martinez in the first place, was even willing to restructure his contract in the offseason to keep him in New York.

The veteran missed Wednesday’s practice due to a personal reason and also wasn’t named a team captain for this year, despite the Giants naming 10 of them. Martinez was back with the team Thursday, but will ultimately part ways with Big Blue moving forward.

So why?

This new regime (led by Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, both of whom were hired in January) could wish to proceed with some of the younger, cheaper, and less injury-prone (some of them, at least) options at the position.

Martinez’s cap hit was set to be $7.68 million this coming season — a significant amount when you consider the Giants’ disastrous cap situation. The release comes with a $7.5 million dead cap charge though, and less than $200,000 in cap savings, per Over the Cap.

Third-year linebackers Tae Crowder (seventh round), Carter Coughlin (seventh round), Cam Brown (sixth round), and rookie Micah McFadden (fifth round) are on their cheap rookie deals. Sixth-round rookie Darrian Beavers is also expected to return next season after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Twenty-eight-year-old Austin Calitro is also on the roster but counts for a cap hit of only $895,000.

There’s the possibility Schoen brings Martinez back after Week 1 on a much more reduced salary if another team doesn’t swoop in and sign him prior to then. But as of right now, Martinez is no longer a Giant, and the move makes the defense worse. That unit was already expected to struggle due to the inexperienced secondary — parting ways with a talented run-stopper could lead to a catastrophic year for Wink Martindale’s crew.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.