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Amid Pokémon card scandal, LB Blake Martinez joins Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Blake Martinez (54) leaves the field after a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Months after announcing his unretirement, linebacker Blake Martinez signed with the Carolina Panthers practice squad. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Blake Martinez signed with the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, and head coach Frank Reich said the linebacker has a chance to play this week.

The 29-year-old joins the Panthers months after being banned from the card-trading marketplace Whatnot.

Following his retirement from the NFL, Martinez started Blake's Breaks, his Pokémon and sports trading cards business. According to CNBC, the company made more than $8.3 million in revenue.

He was accused of scamming buyers, however, and removed from Whatnot in August.

"After a comprehensive investigation into [Blake's Breaks'] operations, we have decided to permanently remove the seller from our platform," the site said in a statement.

With that issue behind him, Martinez has a chance to make a quick return to the field after retiring last November. The Panthers are without outside linebackers Brian Burns, Justin Houston and Yetur Gross-Matos — the latter two both being on injured reserve.

And by joining the Panthers, Martinez was reunited with Carolina senior defensive consultant Dom Capers, who Martinez played under for two seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Martinez enjoyed a breakout 2017 season, when he recorded 144 tackles.

Reich pointed to Martinez's familiarity with Ejiro Evero's 3-4 system, because the defensive coordinator is from the Capers' coaching tree.

"We'll get him on the practice squad and see where it goes from there," Reich said.

The linebacker-needy Panthers play the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.