Do the Packers keep this guy around, knowing that he has the ability to stretch the field, run well after making a catch, and block halfway decent for the team's rushing attack? Or does the team finally discard him because he has missed 26 games since he was selected in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Packers? The feeling here: release Martin.
The Packers will be better off by allowing Martin to sign with another team this off-season rather than use a roster spot on a player who is not reliable. The two-year, $1.365 million contract that he signed in March of 2005 is about to expire, and the patience that the Packers have shown over the years hopefully has expired as well.
Martin is nothing more than fool's gold. He's a collegiate wide receiver that has been transformed into a tight end over the years, but doesn't seem to have the stamina that many good tight ends possess to withstand the rigors of going up against defensive ends and linebackers in the NFL. Thus, he often has been watching from the sidelines because of injuries.
Martin, who turns 28 on March 13, nursed a sore groin in training camp, then missed five of the final six games of the 2006 season with a rib injury that he sustained Nov. 19 against New England. He finished with 21 catches and two touchdowns. During a four-game stretch between Oct. 22 at Miami and Nov. 12 at Minnesota, Martin had 12 catches and two touchdowns, once again teasing the coaching staff and fans with his ability to stretch the field. In 2005, he had a career-high 27 catches and three touchdowns, but a groin injury caused him to miss four games. And so it goes.
Compare Martin to Bubba Franks and it's not even close. When Franks was at the height of his career between 2000-04, he never missed a game while catching at least 30 passes a season and scoring touchdowns when the offense was in the red zone. Though Franks' skills have diminished in the last two seasons, he has been reliable. The offense can count on him being there game after game and in practices.
Despite Martin's skills, the Packers cannot rely on him in practices and games. It's time for the Packers to part ways with Martin and take a new direction with younger tight ends, either through the draft or free agency. The offense needs more than what Martin can offer.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.