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New York Giants sign linebacker Kareem Martin

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The Giants have signed free agent linebacker Kareem Martin:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J - The Giants today continued the rebuilding of their linebacker corps when they signed free agent Kareem Martin.


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Martin played his first four seasons for the Arizona Cardinals. Martin's position coach in his rookie season and defensive coordinator the last three years was James Bettcher, now the Giants' coordinator.

"I'm really excited," Martin said. "My agent called me the other day and told me that New York had extended an offer. With Bettch being the defensive coordinator, that played a big role in my decision. After playing in that defense for the last four years, three with him being the D.C., I learned a lot and I was able to grow a lot. I wanted to continue that maturation in this defense under him, so that played a big role in my decision to come here.

General manager Dave Gettleman is thrilled to have Martin in a Giants uniform.

"When you get into free agency, in the ideal world you want a guy who is healthy and young," Gettleman said. "Kareem is a 26-year-old guy that has some pass rush to him, has movement skills, has good instincts and just seems to be getting better and better all the time. He started as a part-time rotational guy and he built himself up to a point where he had 10 starts last year with Arizona.

"Obviously the familiarity with the system will be huge for him and I'm just very excited. Watching him on film, I think he's got the ability to continue to improve.  He's 6-4, he's 260, he runs a 4.75 and Bettch had him covering tight ends down the field; he's running down the seam with these guys. We're excited to have him."

Martin is the second linebacker to join the Giants this week. Yesterday, they acquired Alec Ogletree with the Rams. Devon Kennard, who played in 15 games for the Giants last season, left the team to join the Detroit Lions.

Martin was a third-round choice – the 84th overall selection – in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In four seasons, he played in 56 regular-season games with 14 starts, and played in two postseason games. His totals include 46 tackles (35 solo) 4.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and nine special teams tackles.

"(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."

Gettleman said Martin's experience in the system will help him teach it to the Giants' other defenders.

"(Adding players who know the system) always helps," Gettleman said. "Kareem can share information. He'll be playing with O.V. (Olivier Vernon) and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and obviously his familiarity and comfortability with the system will help him share knowledge and share the tips and things that he has learned. Same thing with (running back) Jonathan Stewart (who signed with the Giants on Tuesday). The protections will be the same, the protections that Mike (Shula) and Pat (Shurmur) are going to install will be the same. He can help share his knowledge from Carolina, so he will be able to help those guys as well. The short answer is yes, it's a big help."

In 2017, Martin played in all 16 games for the second time in his career, and started a career-high 10 games – nine at outside linebacker and one on the defensive line (Nov. 19 at Houston). He had a career-best 23 tackles (18 solo), 1.0 sack, and his first career interception when he picked off a Jared Goff screen pass intended for Todd Gurley and returned it seven yards vs. the Rams on Dec. 3. It was Martin's first pick since his senior season at Roanoke Rapids (NC) High School.

Martin recorded a career-high six tackles, one for loss, and a pass defensed for a defense that held Washington to a season-low 31 rushing yards on Dec. 17. The following week, he had three tackles and a strip-sack in a victory against the Giants. Now he's going to play for them.

"It's an adjustment, but it's one that I'm excited for," Martin said. "It's a new situation, new opportunity. Luckily, I was able to stay in the same system. I'm excited about New York. It's a lot different from Arizona in good ways. Being in the city, being around this historic organization - you walk around here and see all the championship trophies and the conference championships, and the division championships and the names on the wall. I just want to come here and try to keep that tradition going.

"They're getting a guy who is going to come in here and work hard every day. 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."

Photos of new Giants linebacker Kareem Martin, who previously played for the Cardinals.

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