Cardinals Release Markus Golden

On a Friday rife with cost-cutting moves, the Cardinals are parting ways with a veteran member of their defense. Pass rusher Markus Golden‘s second stint in Arizona has come to an end, per a team announcement.

By releasing the 31-year-old, the Cardinals will get out of the final year on Golden’s contract, which came about though an extension signed in September. He was due to count for $4.2MM on the cap, but this move will save Arizona just over $3MM in space while creating a dead money charge of nearly $1.1MM.

Golden was a second-round pick of the Cardinals in 2015, and he emerged as a productive edge rusher in his second season in the desert. He notched 12.5 sacks that year, but just 2.5 in a pair of campaigns after that. His tenure in Arizona was followed up by a brief stint with the Giants, where he re-established his value.

The Missouri alum racked up 10 sacks in what amounted to his first (and only) full campaign in New York. Golden was a recipient of the rarely-used UFA tender in 2020, but found himself on the move partway through that season. The Cardinals re-acquired him via trade, setting him up for a two-year, $9MM deal upon arrival back in Arizona. That move appeared to be a shrewd one, since Golden produced 11 sacks in 2021.

Things were different this past season, however, as his sack total fell to just 2.5. Golden remained a key starter for the Cardinals’ underwhelming defense, showing the durability which could help him land a deal elsewhere. However, this move continues what will likely be a youth movement in the team’s defensive front, a unit which saw J.J. Watt retire at the end of the campaign.

Zach Allen is a pending free agent, and would represent a logical candidate for a new deal as Arizona looks to rebuild. New general manager Monti Ossenfort has said that retaining the 25-year-old is among the team’s top priorities, so his situation will be one to watch closely in the coming days. Meanwhile, Golden will join a free agent pass rushing class which recently had Leonard Floyd officially added to it, and could also include Za’Darius Smithdepending on how the Vikings handle his request to be released.

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