Markus Golden

Contract Details: Patriots, Moseley, Golden, Bills, Hyde

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

  • LB Matt Judon, Patriots: $18MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021), $11MM (2022), $11MM (2023), $9.5MM (2024). Up to $1MM in per-game roster bonuses, $500K All-Pro incentive between 2022 and 2024. Via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter.
  • TE Jonnu Smith, Patriots: $15MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021), $9MM (2022), $10MM (2023), $11MM (2024). Up to $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. Via Yates on Twitter.
  • CB Emmanuel Moseley, 49ers: $500K per-game active roster bonus in 2022. Up to $750K play-time base salary escalator in 2022. Via Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson on Twitter.
  • LB Markus Golden, Cardinals: two years, $5MM, $2.5MM guaranteed. $1.5MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021, guaranteed), $2MM (2022). Up to $250K in annual per-game roster bonuses, up to $2MM in annual sack incentives. Via Wilson on Twitter.
  • OT Daryl Williams, Bills: $13.75MM guaranteed, $5.4MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021), $6.725MM (2022), $5.475MM (2023). $3MM roster bonus in 2021, $1.25MM roster bonus in 2023. Per-game roster bonuses: $250K (2021), $300K (2022-2023). $100K annual workout bonuses. $2.2MM in additional annual incentives. Via Yates on Twitter.
  • RB Carlos Hyde, Jaguars: Two years, $4.5MM. $1.25MM base salary in 2021 is fully guaranteed. $900K signing bonus. Via TheMMQB’s Albert Breer on Twitter.

Cardinals Re-Sign Markus Golden

The Cardinals have re-upped Markus Golden. The edge rusher will return on a two-year, $9MM deal, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Golden started out with the Cardinals as a second-round pick before moving on to the Giants in 2019. His first Cardinals run was fairly productive and included a 12.5-sack season in 2016. Then, he was hampered by injuries. In his first year with the Giants , he managed 72 tackles and ten sacks, but teams saw that as a fluke — he generated just 26 pressures, so evaluators didn’t think he’d keep it up. Midway through the year, the Cardinals brought him back via trade.

He didn’t go for double-digit sacks in 2020, but he did manage 4.5 between both stops. For his career, Golden has 33.5 total sacks across 78 games.

With Golden back in Arizona, Haason Reddick is probably packing his bags. Meanwhile, the Cardinals project to have a front seven featuring Golden, J.J. Watt, Chandler Jones, and Jordan Phillips.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Golden, 49ers

For the second time in three years, K.J. Wright is a free agent. The longest-tenured Seahawks player has already signed three contracts with the franchise that drafted him. He is eager to ink a fourth.

I’m having fun; I love this city. I love this team, so let’s make it happen,” Wright said of a return to Seattle, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “… (A return is) up to Pete (Carroll) and John (Schneider). They know how much I mean to this team. They know I’m a great teammate, a great leader and it would be a great investment — in my opinion — if they invest in K.J. and to bring him back into the building. You get what you pay for, and I bring a lot to the table still.”

Wright, 31, does not sound interested in a hometown discount, per veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson (on Twitter). The Seahawks have paired Wright and Bobby Wagner for nine seasons and used both as sub-package linebackers for most of the 2020 slate. But Seattle drafting Jordyn Brooks in last year’s first round could complicate a Wright return. Pro Football Focus rated Wright as its No. 8 overall ‘backer this past season.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks were not planning to part ways with OC Brian Schottenheimer, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes an end-of-season meeting — in which Carroll reinforced his preference to focus on the run game — helped lead to the team changing play-callers. The Seahawks deviated in the season’s first half from Carroll’s run-centric vision but reverted more toward their usual setup down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how Seattle’s offense looks under new OC Shane Waldron, who spent five years in Washington and Los Angeles working under Sean McVay.
  • Markus Golden‘s sack total dropped from 10 in 2019 to 4.5 in 2020, and the Cardinals saw Haason Reddick complete a contract-year breakout. Still, the older Arizona edge rusher would like to return. “It gave me another shock of energy just being back home,” Golden said of the trade that sent him from the Giants to the Cards, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Being here where I know my heart is, it really matters to me to be in Arizona on the Cardinals.” Golden, who signed with the Giants in 2019 and stayed in New York via the rare UFA tender last year, is set for free agency for a third straight year.
  • Big expenses at the top of the Rams‘ payroll have forced the team to let several role players walk in recent offseasons. This year may be no exception. The Rams are unlikely to re-sign Josh Reynolds, Malcolm Brown or Gerald Everett, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Rams having drafted contributors at these positions in 2020, and having two wideouts (Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods) and a tight end (Tyler Higbee) signed long-term already, pointed this trio to free agency.
  • Jeff Wilson‘s one-year 49ers extension can max out at $3.6MM, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. Wilson will receive $2.05MM fully guaranteed, with another possible $1.55MM available via incentives. The incentives would give Wilson a chance to out-earn the low-end RFA tender price, which OverTheCap projects at $2.24MM for running backs. He is still due to be a 2022 UFA.
  • Nick Mullens underwent elbow surgery last month, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. This, however, was not a Tommy John operation, with Garafolo adding the 49ers backup’s injury was not as severe as initially feared. He is expected to be ready by training camp.

Giants Trade LB Markus Golden To Cardinals

Hours after their loss to the Eagles, the Giants are dealing away a key defender. They will send Markus Golden back to the Cardinals.

The Cardinals announced they have reacquired Golden in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick. Originally a Cards second-rounder, Golden signed with the Giants in 2019 and stayed in New York via UFA tender this offseason. The Cardinals will be on the hook for the remaining $2.6MM of Golden’s UFA tender salary.

Golden has rebounded from the ACL tear that docked his stock in his first Cardinals stay. He led the Giants with 10 sacks last season; in 2020, the 29-year-old edge defender has 1.5 sacks and six QB hits. Golden will head back to a different Cardinals coaching staff, but Steve Keim knows him well from being the GM that drafted him five years ago.

The Cardinals are in better shape than they were when Golden was last with the team. Golden finished his first Arizona stint during the Steve Wilks-led 3-13 season. The Cardinals are now 4-2 under Kliff Kingsbury. And they carried a clear edge need after losing Chandler Jones for the season. Golden, who registered a career-high 12.5 sacks for the 2016 Cards, will now help fill that void.

This trade could double as a chance for Golden to submit quality work ahead of another free agency bid — after limited interest came his way in 2019 or ’20 — and contribute to a potential playoff run. He is due to return to free agency in 2021. Golden obviously cannot do a Thursday-Sunday double, with trade acquisitions needing to pass six COVID-19 tests — each at least 24 hours apart — before practicing with their new teams.

This could be the first of multiple pre-deadline deals for the Giants, who fell to 1-6 despite holding a two-score lead over the Eagles in the fourth quarter Thursday. Although they used the rare UFA tender to retain Golden, they were deploying him as mostly a pass rush specialist. Golden played just 36% of Big Blue’s defensive snaps this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants’ Markus Golden To Sign Tender

Giants edge rusher Markus Golden will sign his tender and report to the team, according to Art Stapleton of The Record (on Twitter). When he arrives, Golden will go through the first round of COVID-19 protocols and get to work once he’s given the green light.

Golden registered 10 sacks in a bounce-back 2019 season, but the game tape and advanced metrics told a slightly different story. With only 26 pressures, many evaluators felt that his sack totals were something of a fluke. Golden aimed for a lucrative multiyear deal, but the Giants instead tethered him with a rarely used UFA tender. When Golden wasn’t able to scare up another offer, he chose to take his time. Now, he’ll return to the G-Men and earn $4.125MM in 2020.

Last year, the Giants finished near the bottom in pass-defense DVOA. In a perfect world, they probably would have liked to upgrade from Golden, but they did not engage heavily with this year’s top edge rushers. Instead of adding one of the still-available options – a list that includes Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen, and Jabaal Sheard – the Giants seem ready to enter Week 1 with Golden, longtime Packers backup Kyler Fackrell, and a young group of DEs to bring the blitz.

Because Golden’s 10th and final sack last season triggered a $1MM incentive, he made more money in 2019 than his 2020 tender will pay. This sets up a strange “prove it again” season for the former Cardinals second-round pick. But with the Giants curiously doing little to augment their edge-rushing situation this year, Golden is again in line to be the team’s top pass rusher. This will be Golden’s age-29 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Giants, Markus Golden

After months of rumors on the free agent edge market, one domino has moved. The deadline for other teams to submit offers to Markus Golden has passed, tethering the sixth-year edge rusher to the Giants for a second season.

However, Golden does not intend to sign the May 5 UFA tender, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Golden had until Wednesday to sign with another team, with the deadline coming when the first teams reported to training camp. He is now pledged to the Giants on a $4.125MM salary for 2020.

Despite registering 10 sacks in a bounce-back 2019 season, Golden did not receive much interest since the Giants placed the rarely used tender on him. Similar to franchise-tagged Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, Golden not signing his tender would allow him to stay away from New York’s training camp without being subject to fines.

The Giants and Golden were not especially close on terms before the team placed the UFA tender on him, and Dave Gettleman stuck to his guns about not spending much on edge rushers this offseason. But in the months since Golden has been attached to the tender, other teams were not believed to be especially interested in the 29-year-old defender. Golden, Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen and Jabaal Sheard represented the top group of remaining UFA edge defenders. The other three are unattached as training camps near.

Golden’s market underwhelming stands as good news for a Giants team that was oddly not aggressive in pursuing edge rushers in free agency or the draft. Despite housing a quality group of defensive linemen, the Giants ranked 31st in pass-defense DVOA in 2019.

The former Cardinals second-round pick signing his tender would garner him less than he made in 2019 — $4.75MM — so it might take some time for him to rejoin the Giants. The Giants can trade the pass rusher but could obviously use him to help out an edge rush that houses multiple mid-round draft picks and longtime Packers backup Kyler Fackrell, a free agency addition. The Giants did not address the position in this year’s draft until Round 7.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top Edge Rushers Still Available

Putting pressure on the opposing quarterback is critical to a team’s success in today’s NFL, and there are a number of players still languishing on the free agent market who are capable of doing just that. While the pandemic has understandably made teams leery of authorizing big-money contracts, some of the available talent can be had for a fairly minimal commitment, and it would not be surprising to see them come off the board as we get closer (hopefully) to training camp.

So let’s take a look at the best of the unsigned pass rushers.

  1. Jadeveon Clowney: Not many players have been in the news more than Clowney this offseason. By now, everyone knows that Clowney was seeking a multi-year deal with an AAV of at least $20MM when free agency opened, but he has had to modify his demands in a big way. The Browns are believed to have two offers on the table: a one-year pact worth $15MM, and a multi-year contract worth around $12MM/year. Cleveland does not seem to be high on Clowney’s list of preferred destinations, but the club does have the makings of a postseason contender. It will be interesting to see if another team tries to top the Browns’ proposals to land a potentially game-changing talent.
  2. Everson Griffen: Back in May, Griffen was rated as our No. 3 best available free agent, and he would be the No. 2 talent on that list today now that Cam Newton has signed with the Patriots. Shortly after the list was published, we heard that the Cardinals may be interested, but nothing has transpired on the Griffen front in the last six weeks. The 32-year-old showed that he still has plenty left in the tank after registering eight sacks in 2019, and the fact that he is still unsigned may indicate that his contract demands are too high right now.
  3. Ezekiel Ansah: The Seahawks paired Clowney with Ansah in 2019 with the hopes of creating a true two-headed pass-rushing monster. That did not exactly work out as planned, as Clowney managed just three sacks and Ansah posted 2.5 while playing in 11 games. Ansah just couldn’t regain the form that he displayed during his best years with the Lions, and it certainly seems as if he does not have another double-digit sack campaign in him. Still, he is another year removed from the shoulder injury that marred his 2018 season and delayed his 2019 debut, so he will surely get a chance to be a part of someone’s pass rush rotation in 2020.
  4. Michael Bennett: Bennett wants to play in 2020, but thus far, it doesn’t sound as if there has been much interest in his services. The three-time Pro Bowler enjoyed a nine-sack effort with the Eagles in 2018, but he was traded to the Patriots in March 2019 and clashed with New England brass. In October, the Pats shipped him to the Cowboys, for whom he posted four sacks in nine games. In total, he collected 6.5 sacks last year while playing fewer snaps than he is accustomed to. He may very well start to attract more interest once camp gets underway.
  5. Markus Golden: No one other than the incumbent Giants has expressed interest in Golden since free agency began, and it seems like the 29-year-old will be back with Big Blue in 2020. The Giants put the rarely-used UFA tender on him, which means that he will only be eligible to play for New York if he does not sign another offer prior to the start of training camp (presently scheduled for July 28). Though Golden posted 10 sacks in 2019, he did so off of just 26 pressures, which teams likely see as an unsustainable conversion rate. The UFA tender would pay Golden $4.125MM this season.
  6. Jabaal Sheard: Sheard has never quite lived up to his potential as a game-changing pass rusher, and the 8.5 sacks he totaled in his rookie season in 2011 remain a career high. But he has averaged over five sacks per season over the course of a mostly-durable nine-year career, and he still looks the part of a starting DE. Fresh off a reasonably productive three-year stint with the Colts, Sheard has not yet been connected to any club this offseason.
  7. Clay Matthews: Matthews opened the 2019 campaign with his hair on fire, posting six sacks in the first five games of the season. It appeared that the two-year, $16.75MM contract the Rams gave to the longtime Packer in March 2019 was going to pay off in a big way, but Matthews suffered a broken jaw in October that derailed his season. He picked up two more sacks the rest of the way, and LA cut ties with him earlier this year. There have been no public reports of interest in the 34-year-old, but he could be a valuable veteran presence if deployed in the right way.
  8. Vinny Curry: Curry has always been a situational pass rusher. Even when he started all 16 regular-season games for the Eagles in 2017, he played in just over half of the club’s defensive snaps. His one year in Tampa Bay in 2018 was not a smashing success, but he returned to Philadelphia in 2019 to reprise his role as a player who can come in on passing downs and who represents a legitimate threat to get to the quarterback. The Jets were said to be interested in him in March, and Gang Green could still use pass rushing help, but the two sides have not yet come together on an agreement.
  9. Terrell Suggs: Suggs’ career accomplishments stand head and shoulders above those of most everyone else on this list. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and seven-time Pro Bowler has 139 career sacks to his credit, but he finally started to slow down in 2018, his final year in Baltimore, and he looked the part of an aging defender during his 13-game stint with the Cardinals in 2019. Arizona cut him late last season and he was scooped up by the Chiefs, which allowed him to collect his second Super Bowl ring. It’s unclear if T-Sizzle has any interest in continuing his playing career, but he has nothing left to prove.
  10. Cameron Wake: Another player that would be higher on this list if not for his age, Wake was released by the Titans in March. The 38-year-old has said he wants to keep playing, but after a terrific run with the Dolphins from 2009-18, Wake’s one year with Tennessee did not go according to plan. He registered just two sacks in nine games and missed the final stretch of the season with a back injury. He might well be healthy now, but we are unaware of any teams with interest at this point.

No Offers For Giants’ Markus Golden?

Thanks to the rarely used unrestricted free agent tender, Giants edge rusher Markus Golden has a one-year, $4.125MM offer on the table. Or, he can sign with a new club between now and the upcoming deadline. So far, it doesn’t sound like the former second-round pick has received any outside offers, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.

[RELATED: Latest On Giants’ DeAndre Baker]

Golden has until July 22nd or the start of training camp (whichever date comes later) to ink the Giants’ one-year placeholder. At last check, the NFL is aiming to start camp on July 28th, which gives him an extra week to scare up a deal.

The former second-rounder showed flashes during his four seasons in Arizona, including a 12.5-sack season in 2016. Then, he was hampered by injuries. After he landed a one-year, $3.75MM deal with the Giants last year, he turned in a fully healthy season with 72 tackles and 10 sacks. Those numbers would usually spell lucrative offers, but teams probably see Golden’s sack numbers as a fluke, The 29-year-old generated just 26 pressures last year, an indicator that he might not repeat with double-digit sack totals in 2020.

It’s possible that Golden’s market has also stalled by the continued availability of edge rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen. If those veterans come off the board, other teams in need could turn to Golden, who would represent a less splashy – but less costly – alternative.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top Remaining Free Agents

While most of the top free agents in this year’s cycle have long since signed with new clubs, there are plenty of potential difference-makers still available. Those players remain on the market for various reasons — price tag, injury concerns, etc. — but they all could be a key factor in the fortunes of whatever team they ultimately join. Let’s take a look at the best of who’s still out there:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney: If you think you’ve been reading a lot about Clowney over the past couple of months, you’re right. That’s what happens when a former No. 1 overall pick and a young dynamic talent is still up for grabs this late in the offseason. Clowney’s high asking price, originally said to be $20MM per year, certainly scared some teams off, as did his recent core muscle surgery. Some will also point to his relatively low sack totals as evidence that he is not the dynamic pass rushing force that he believes himself to be. But he undeniably has the chops to be a game-changer against the run and pass, and he is content to wait for the right situation to come along. Once teams have the opportunity to evaluate him themselves, his market should heat up rapidly.
  2. Cam Newton: Here’s another former No. 1 overall pick that we have written a great deal about recently. Like Clowney, the 2015 MVP may be signed by now if interested teams could have their own doctors examine him, and Newton is willing to be patient and wait for that to happen if waiting will allow him to secure a starting gig somewhere. But at this point, it looks like only an injury or major underpeformance will open the door for a QB1 role in 2020, so he may have to settle for a top backup job for now and hit the free agent market again in 2021. He is reportedly warming to that idea.
  3. Everson Griffen: Like Clowney, Griffen is a talented pass rusher, but unlike Clowney, Griffen has multiple double-digit sack campaigns under his belt. The 32-year-old posted eight QB takedowns in 2019, and it is a little surprising to see him unsigned this late in the process. A reunion with the Vikings may be in the cards, and the Seahawks are the only other club to be connected to Griffen at this point.
  4. Jason Peters: The only reason Peters isn’t signed yet is because of his age (38). He turned in a typically terrific season in 2019, and he has been connected to a number of clubs over the past couple of months. The problem is, many of those teams have filled their needs at the offensive tackle spots, so even though Peters has said that he is willing to play on the left or the right side, his options are now more limited. The Chargers could still be in play, and another year with the Eagles may also be a reality.
  5. Logan Ryan: Unlike several of the players ahead of him on this list, Ryan doesn’t have any notable health concerns, but his asking price — he’s seeking around $10MM per year — could be depressing his market. He turned in a productive 2019 season with the Titans and has the versatility to move around the defensive backfield, which has apparently led to multi-year offers. Given the need for quality corners in today’s game, Ryan will likely land a lucrative deal soon, it just may not be as lucrative as he wants. The Jets and Dolphins are involved in the bidding.
  6. Markus Golden: Golden enjoyed what appeared to be a breakout season with the Cardinals in 2016, posting 12.5 sacks in just his second year in the league. But injuries limited the edge rusher over the 2017-18 seasons, and he had to settle for a one-year prove-it deal with the Giants in 2019. He perhaps thought that he proved it, recording 10 sacks for Big Blue, but those 10 sacks came from just 26 total pressures, which is probably an unsustainable conversion rate. So far, only the Giants — who put the rarely-used UFA tender on Golden — have been publicly connected to him.
  7. Devonta Freeman: We haven’t heard a peep about the two-time Pro Bowl running back since the Falcons released him in March. The fact that Atlanta replaced him with Todd Gurley and his frightening injury concerns isn’t a good sign, and Freeman’s 3.6 YPC average in 2019 certainly isn’t helping matters either. Freeman’s own injury problems limited him to two games in 2018, so he is now two years removed from his last effective season. It’s nonetheless a bit of a surprise that there have been no rumors of interest in his services.
  8. Delanie Walker: The best tight end left on the market, Walker has battled injuries over the past two seasons and will turn 36 in August, so it makes sense that we haven’t heard too much about him lately. But while he may not be a TE1 anymore, he could still be a useful weapon in the passing game, and he also has a history of being a strong blocker. The Colts, Packers, and Redskins were said to be interested in him in March, and those teams continue to look like good fits even after the draft. The Ravens, who rely heavily on TEs and who traded Hayden Hurst to the Falcons this offseason, also make some sense.
  9. Eric Reid: The 28-year-old safety turned in what appeared to be a strong year in 2019, starting all 16 games for the Panthers and posting a career-best 130 tackles. The problem is, he may have had so many tackle opportunities because he allowed over 77% of throws in his vicinity to be completed. Still, he is an experienced and generally solid back-end defender, and the Texans — who employ his brother, Justin Reid seem like a logical fit.
  10. Darqueze Dennard: Dennard, a former first-round pick of the Bengals, thought he had a deal with the Jaguars in March. But Jacksonville backed out of the deal, and while there was no word on why that happened, it could be that health concerns made the Jags skittish. Dennard missed the first few weeks of the 2019 season due to a knee procedure, but he did play every game from Week 10 forward and graded out well in terms of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. He has been Cincinnati’s primary slot corner over the past several seasons, but there has been no reported interest in him since the failed Jaguars pact.

Giants Interested In Markus Golden

The Giants have thus far opted against adding a high-profile edge rusher. For several weeks, they have not been viewed as likely to re-sign Markus Golden. Joe Judge said the team’s top 2019 pass rusher remains on the radar.

The first-year Giants HC said the team is interested in Golden, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, and engaged in discussions with him after the team placed the seldom-used UFA tender on him (Twitter link).

New York’s UFA tender will only tether Golden to the team if no one else signs him by July 22. Golden finished last season with a Giants-most 10 sacks, reviving his stock after an ACL tear tanked it during his Cardinals tenure. In 15 games from 2017-18, Golden recorded just 2.5 sacks. The former second-round pick, however, has two double-digit sack seasons now.

As of now, the Giants’ top edge rushers are former Packers backup Kyler Fackrell and recent third-round picks Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines. The Giants surprised most by avoiding high-profile edge defenders in free agency and not drafting one until Day 3. While Carter and Ximines combined for nine sacks last season, the Giants ranked 22nd in sacks last season (36) even with Golden on the team.

In early April, Golden’s asking price was too high for the Giants’ liking. The 29-year-old defender may or may not have reduced it. The chances Golden returns to New York appear to have increased.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.