Cardinals edge rusher Markus Golden is believed to have suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
Although an initial report said Golden may miss merely a month with an MCL injury, the franchise feared this scenario. This malady stands to sideline the third-year edge defender for the rest of the season.
Golden, 26, erupted with 12.5 sacks a season ago while playing on nearly 90% of Arizona’s defensive snaps. He hadn’t been quite as productive on 231 snaps in 2017, however, as the former second-round pick had yet to register a quarterback takedown and graded as a bottom-10 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus. Golden, a Missouri product, is signed through the 2018 campaign.
Kareem Martin replaced Golden in the Cardinals’ overtime victory against the 49ers on Sunday, but Arizona will likely need to add another outside linebacker going forward. The club has three candidates — Bryson Albright, Obum Gwacham, and Earl Okine — for promotion on its practice squad, and the Cards could also look to the free agent market. Mario Williams, Trent Cole, and Akeem Ayers are among the best available edge rushers, while Arizona has experience with fellow unsigned veterans Dwight Freeney and Sio Moore.
Alternatively, the Cardinals could sign an inside ‘backer such as Philip Wheeler (who has bounced on and off the Arizona roster this season), and play first-round rookie Haason Reddick on the edge, as Jurecki tweets. Deone Bucannon‘s impending return also gives the Cards more options at linebacker.