EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Linebacker Blake Martinez and wide receiver Sterling Shepard both suffered serious injuries last season. Martinez tore his left ACL against Atlanta on September 26. Shepard ruptured his left Achilles tendon vs. Dallas on December 19.
Both players agreed to restructured contracts that lowered their 2022 salaries. The Giants need to create room under the salary cap.
"It was definitely a difficult decision," said Martinez, who was a team captain in each of his first two seasons with the Giants. "But I think for me, it all came down to my family. I think being able to have the structure and the ability to have my daughters in the schools they're in and have that situation handled. I just love playing football and I knew what the coaches brought here from my time rehabbing here and those types of things and the interactions. I just felt confident knowing that I can go out there and prove the type of player I am coming back from my injury."
View photos from the voluntary offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Shepard is a seven-year veteran who is the Giants' longest-tenured player.
"They wanted me here, I wanted to be here," he said. "We were able to work something out that made sense for both sides and I've moved on from it. Just looking forward to getting to know these guys and getting to know this playbook and trying to do my part and win games.
"It's tough, man, but I did the pros and cons and the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide. I did a lot of talking to my family and ultimately it was the best situation for me and my family. I was super happy that we were able to come to an agreement and if everything goes the way that I hope that it goes, hopefully I'll be here for a little bit longer. Like I said, I'm focused on right now, doing everything in my power to get better, get back on the field and stay on the field and learn this book right now. That's where my head is and where my focus is."
Both Martinez and Shepard avoided specifics when asked about the timetable for their return.
"For me right now, it's just focusing day by day, trying to get each checkpoint, doing the things the trainers have me doing for rehab and then all of the strength staff, what they have me doing in the weight room," Martinez said. "All I can say is it's going well and just excited to keep chopping wood and make that progress."
"I'm taking it day by day and just listening to the trainers, doing everything they ask of me," Shepard said. "I also do some extra stuff when I get home. I'm doing everything in my power to get back on the field and get back out there with my guys."