Just yesterday, we heard that the Cardinals and impending free agent Markus Golden have engaged in “periodic” contract talks. The implication was that Arizona could perhaps retain the talented pass rusher on a team-friendly deal, but it appears that Golden will not be under contract when free agency opens on March 13.
Per Matt Verderame of FanSided, Golden is expected to hit the open market (Twitter link). And given the premium that the league places on pass rushers, it is logical for him to do so, especially since Arizona does not appear willing to pony up a lot of cash to keep him. Verderame suggests that the Cardinals, who already have $19.5MM of their 2019 cap devoted to fellow edge defender Chandler Jones and who like the pass rushing talent available in this year’s draft, may not have a Golden re-up high on their list of priorities.
Golden has been limited by a torn ACL suffered in October 2017, which ended his 2017 campaign prematurely and forced him to miss the first several games of the 2018 season. He did end up playing in (and starting) 11 contests for the Cardinals last year, but he was clearly not the same explosive force he was in 2016, when he compiled 12.5 sacks and appeared on the verge of stardom.
Nonetheless, he will be just 28 next month — on March 13, coincidentally — and has at least some experience in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. The upside is clearly there, and once some of the top pass rushers who are eligible for free agency are taken off the market via the franchise tag, Golden will begin to look more attractive.
Golden claims that he is fully healthy, and he believes the fact that he has been able to work out normally this offseason instead of rehabbing an injury will help him return to his 2016 level of performance.