Markus Golden

Latest On Steelers OLB Markus Golden

Markus Golden is the latest veteran addition to the Steelers’ edge rushing group, having inked a one-year deal last month. He recently touched on the role he is expected to have in his new home, and his free agent process.

Golden was released by the Cardinals just before the start of the new league year in March, following an underwhelming campaign in 2022. The 32-year-old recorded just 2.5 sacks last season, a far cry from the 11 he racked up the year prior. His release was one of many cost-cutting moves around the league, and left him as part of a large group of experienced pass rushers in search of a new opportunity.

The former second-rounder indicated, via TribLive’s Joe Rutter, that he had multiple offers to weigh before ultimately signing in Pittsburgh. His base salary of $1.165MM should inform the expectations Golden will face in 2023, a season in which he will sit behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith on the team’s depth chart. That situation does not present an issue for Golden.

“I don’t need all that,” he said, while acknowledging the Steelers made no promises about playing time during his visit“You can sit here and tell somebody anything. At the end of the day, I know how football is. Anything can happen… When the time comes, whether I play one play or if I play 30 plays, I’m going to go hard on all those plays.”

The Steelers have tried to add veteran depth behind the elite duo of Watt and Highsmith over the past two offseasons. That included signing Melvin Ingram in 2021 and trading for Malik Reed in 2022. The former was quickly traded after taking issue with his lack of snaps, while the latter recorded just one sack in 14 games in Pittsburgh before departing in free agency.

Golden will look to provide the Steelers with a more effective rotational option while aiming to boost his own value on the open market next spring. A relatively productive season could establish the Missouri product as a cost-effective option for Pittsburgh, since Watt averages $28MM per year on his deal and Highsmith is currently in talks on what will be a lucrative extension. Golden’s remarks on the Steelers’ approach with him suggest his decision to join them could prove to be one which pays off during the season.

Steelers To Sign OLB Markus Golden

While Bud Dupree left his Pittsburgh visit without a deal, the Steelers are not letting Markus Golden do the same. The veteran edge rusher met with the team today and intends to sign, Adam Schefter of tweets.

The sides agreed on a one-year contract. This comes two-plus months after the Cardinals cut ties with Golden, who enjoyed two stints in Arizona. The ninth-year outside linebacker will now be positioned to work as a rotational rusher behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

This signing gives the Steelers four pass rushers who have totaled a double-digit sack season. Altogether, this quartet — Watt, Highsmith, Golden, Cameron Heyward — has combined for 11 such seasons. Golden has contributed three over the course of his career, the most recent coming in 2021 (11 sacks). While Golden did not approach that total last season, he displayed similar pressure numbers by totaling more quarterback hits (20) than he did in 2021 (19).

Golden is heading into his age-32 season, making this signing similar to the Melvin Ingram addition of 2021. The Steelers will obviously hope this turns out better. They ended up trading a disgruntled Ingram to Kansas City, where he closed out his age-32 season. Golden has a more productive recent past compared to Ingram at this point in their respective careers.

Consistency has eluded Golden, however. The former second-round pick surged to a career-best 12.5 sacks in 2016, but a 2017 ACL tear sapped that momentum. Golden did not regain his pre-surgery form in 2018, leading to the Giants taking a one-year flier during the 2019 free agency period. That bet paid off. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon in consecutive offseasons, the Giants saw Golden lead their 2019 edition in sacks (10). New York placed the rarely used UFA tender on Golden in 2020 but traded him back to Arizona that October. Golden spent the past two-plus seasons with the Cardinals, delivering up-and-down production.

With Chandler Jones out for most of the 2020 season, Golden totaled just three sacks as a Cardinal. The Cards still re-signed Golden to a two-year, $5MM deal in 2021, leading to the 11-sack showing opposite Jones. That production then led to the Cards adding a year to Golden’s deal, though the team’s new regime bailed on that extra year in March. With Jones in Las Vegas last year, Golden totaled just 2.5 sacks — his lowest number since 2017.

This Pittsburgh pact should offer Golden plenty of favorable matchups. Watt and Michael Strahan share the official single-season sack record (22.5), and Highsmith moved himself onto the extension radar with a 14.5-sack slate late year. The Steelers have not received the production they have sought from their top OLB backup in recent years; Ingram and Malik Reed each registered one sack during their respective years in Pittsburgh. (Reed, a 2022 trade acquisition, has since signed with the Dolphins.) Golden should provide a higher floor for this role, as the Steelers — the league’s sack champions from 2017-21 — aim to keep their pass rush elite.

Steelers To Host OLB Markus Golden

Following a second stint with the Cardinals, Markus Golden is on the market again. Arizona’s new regime released the veteran pass rusher earlier this offseason, and he is making a trip to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are hosting Golden on a visit, The Score’s Jordan Schultz tweets. The meeting will occur Wednesday, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets. Pittsburgh has locked-in starters, in T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, but is a bit thin behind its dynamic outside linebacker pair.

Golden, 32, had signed a Cardinals extension during the 2022 offseason but was not in the Monti OssenfortJonathan Gannon duo’s plans. The Steelers have also seen some turnover at edge rusher in recent years. After letting Bud Dupree walk in 2021, the Steelers signed Melvin Ingram and then traded him to the Chiefs a few months later. In 2022, they acquired Malik Reed from the Broncos. Reed has since rejoined Vic Fangio in Miami. The Steelers hosted Dupree on a visit earlier this offseason, but the former first-round pick signed with the Falcons.

Enjoying peaks and valleys over the course of his eight-year career, Golden has three double-digit sack seasons — though, none of those came in consecutive years. After a breakthrough 2016 slate included 12.5 sacks, Golden suffered an ACL tear early in the 2017 season. The Giants took a flier on Golden, who hit free agency with little momentum in 2019, and were rewarded with a 10-sack season. New York then placed a UFA tender on Golden in 2020 before trading him back to Arizona during that season. Lining up opposite Chandler Jones in 2021, Golden notched 11 sacks and four forced fumbles.

The Cards had re-signed Golden to a two-year, $5MM contract in 2021 but last year gave him an incentive-laden extension that pushed the deal through 2023. Despite Arizona receiving strong seasons from J.J. Watt and Zach Allen, their top edge rusher only totaled 2.5 sacks. Even though the sack count did not rival 2021, Golden posted similar pressure numbers. He tallied 20 QB hits in 2022 — one more than his 2021 number. Having played in 3-4 defenses throughout his career, Golden did not appear a fit for Gannon’s Eagles-imported defense.

With the Steelers hosting Dupree in March and Golden this week, they are clearly exploring a depth addition. They have several options. If Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark and Leonard Floyd are deemed out of Pittsburgh’s price range, the likes of Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Quinn, Carlos Dunlap, Kyle Van Noy and Dawuane Smoot are among the veteran edge defenders available.

As of now, the Steelers roster Quincy Roche and fourth-round pick Nick Herbig behind Watt and Highsmith. It seems the team is aiming to enter the season with a better No. 3 OLB.

Checking In On Edge Rusher Market

The late-spring signing period that transpires every year — due to the compensatory formula deadline passing — has produced a number of deals. Rock Ya-Sin, Foster Moreau, Randall Cobb, Donovan Smith and a few quarterbacks (John Wolford, Trevor Siemian, Brandon Allen) agreed to terms over the past week and change.

This year’s deadline, however, has not led to a thaw in the edge defender market, which is free agency’s deepest at this point. A number of accomplished veterans — some still in or close to their prime — remain unsigned. Teams often use OTAs, minicamp and training camp to determine where roster flaws are, leading to summer veteran additions. As of last week, no such moves affect teams’ 2024 compensatory picks. Some clubs will also pick up some cap space after June 1, when they will see the money saved from previous cut designations emerge.

A few longtime starters figure to receive another chance before teams configure their final depth charts. Ahead of OTAs, here are the top options available:

Frank Clark. Age in Week 1: 30

The Chiefs cut Clark in March, separating from their most prominent edge player of the Patrick Mahomes era. While Clark did not live up to the five-year, $104MM pact he signed upon being acquired from the Seahawks in 2019 and ultimately took a pay cut to return in 2022, he did continue producing in the playoffs. Clark’s 2.5 sacks during this past postseason give him 13.5 for his career. In the official sack era (1982-present), that total ranks third. Of course, the ex-Seattle second-rounder was arrested twice in 2021 and never eclipsed eight sacks during a Chiefs regular season. He remains a starter-caliber player.

Jadeveon Clowney. Age in Week 1: 30

Perennially unable to secure a long-term deal, the former No. 1 overall pick will likely end his NFL career without landing one. Injury trouble has plagued Clowney, who missed eight games during his two-year Browns tenure. Since the Texans traded Clowney to the Seahawks in August 2019, he has taken his time before reaching a free agency accord. Clowney signed with the Titans in September 2020, inked his first Browns deal in April 2021 and re-signed in May of last year. Clashes with Cleveland’s coaching staff will lead him elsewhere. Clowney only totaled two sacks and 12 QB pressures last season, though he collected nine sacks opposite Myles Garrett in 2021.

Leonard Floyd. Age in Week 1: 31

With the Rams moving on from their four-year, $64MM agreement in March, two teams have now cut Floyd in his career. The Bears picked up his fifth-year option but, back when teams were allowed to do this, ditched it free of charge a year later back in 2020. Floyd has both displayed durability and production since that Chicago separation, showing a new gear in Los Angeles. Teaming with Aaron Donald and Von Miller certainly boosted Floyd’s chances of drawing a favorable matchup, but he kept going after Donald’s shutdown last season. Four of Floyd’s 9.5 sacks came during the six games Donald missed. Floyd’s 31 QB pressures ranked 17th last season.

Markus Golden. Age in Week 1: 32

Coming off the worst season in this contingent, Golden is two years removed from an 11-sack campaign. The former second-round pick agreed to a one-year extension that covered the 2023 season, but the Cardinals’ new regime ditched that contract in March. Golden has three double-digit sack seasons on his resume, though they have come in nonconsecutive years. An early-career ACL tear threw the Mizzou alum off track, but Golden has missed just one game over the past four seasons.

Yannick Ngakoue. Age in Week 1: 28

The second-ranked edge defender in PFR’s free agent rankings back in March (behind only Marcus Davenport), Ngakoue has consistently produced sack numbers while generating a reputation as a hired gun and run-game liability. He did not come close to reaching the May compensatory deadline in the past, however, being franchise-tagged in 2020 and signed to a two-year, $26MM Raiders deal in March 2021. The Colts took on that contract last year, via a straight-up trade for Ya-Sin, and Ngakoue reeled off a 9.5-sack season. The former Jaguars third-round pick is the only player to post at least eight sacks in each of the past seven seasons.

Dawuane Smoot. Age in Week 1: 28

One of the bright spots of the Jaguars’ Urban Meyer year, Smoot finished the 2021 season with 30 pressures. The former third-round pick accumulated 22.5 sacks from 2019-22, finishing that stretch on a two-year deal worth $10MM. He likely would have a third contract in place — either from the Jaguars or another team earlier in free agency — had a December ACL tear not occurred. The Jags did not re-sign Arden Key or use a first- or second-day pick on an edge rusher. While that potentially keeps the door open to Smoot returning when cleared (or on the homestretch toward clearance), he remains an intriguing complementary option for teams.

Kyle Van Noy. Age in Week 1: 32

Although Van Noy has operated as a hybrid of sorts, his sack consistency qualifies him for such a list. Van Noy’s one-year Chargers deal ended up requiring considerable edge work, with Joey Bosa lost for much of the season. As he had done for years in New England, Van Noy made an impact in a pass-rushing capacity. He finished with five sacks, marking the fifth time in the past six seasons he has reached that number. Van Noy’s age and versatility make him one of the better options left. After signing with the Chargers in May of last year, Van Noy expressed interest in staying on another accord.

Mid-30s wing

Carlos Dunlap. Age in Week 1: 34

The Chiefs waited until July to add Dunlap last year, bringing in the longtime Bengals sack artist — on a one-year, $3MM pact — to replace Melvin Ingram as a Clark complement. Kansas City has since added younger UFA Charles Omenihu and used first-round picks on edges (George Karlaftis, Felix Anudike-Uzomah) in each of the past two years. The Bengals’ all-time sack leader, Dunlap finished with four last season after amassing 8.5 with the Seahawks in 2021. The Chiefs used the 13-year veteran on 39 defensive plays in Super Bowl LVII.

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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.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Golden, 49ers

While much of the SeahawksRussell Wilson drama should be expected to recede in the coming weeks, now that the Broncos’ Seattle date has come and gone, the decorated quarterback and his former team will still be connected in the years to come. One of the recent discussion points involving Wilson centered around previous times the Seahawks explored trading him. Wilson confirmed recently he knew about multiple trade talks the Seahawks engaged in during his 10-year run.

Definitely they tried to, a couple different times, to try and see what was out there,’’ Wilson said of Seattle trade talks (via 9News’ Mike Klis). “It’s part of the business and it’s part of being a professional and everything else. ‘Upset’ is probably the wrong word. I believe in my talent and who I am.”

Wilson, who threw for 340 yards and a touchdown in a Seattle return that became overshadowed by Nathaniel Hackett‘s strange final-minute field goal strategy, was asked specifically about Seahawks-Browns talks in 2018. The Seahawks were linked to attempting to trade their perennial Pro Bowl QB to the Browns for the No. 1 overall pick. A 2020 report indicated the Seahawks wanted both the Browns’ Nos. 1 and 4 picks in 2018 (which turned into Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward), but those conversations were more conceptual in nature. Nevertheless, the Seahawks’ trade discussions involving Wilson led to the no-trade clause in his 2019 extension. QB trades were less prevalent in 2018 compared to their frequency today; a Wilson move at that point would have been far more shocking than it was in 2022.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Rashaad Penny received the bulk of the carries for the Seahawks in their upset win over the Broncos, but the team’s rookie back will make his debut this week. Ken Walker will return after missing weeks due to a hernia surgery. Pete Carroll confirmed the second-round pick will be active against the 49ers, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta (on Twitter). Penny, a 2018 first-round pick who showed his best form at the end of last season, is signed to a one-year deal. Walker’s rookie contract runs through 2025.
  • The Cardinals gave Markus Golden a short extension, a one-year bump that runs through 2023. The veteran edge rusher’s deal maxes out at $6.5MM. A sack-based incentive package worth $2MM is included in that total. Golden can earn $250K for reaching six sacks and another $250K for totaling eight, Howard Balzer of tweets. If Golden registers 10 sacks, he will collect a $500K bonus. A 12-sack season would mean an additional $1MM. Golden, 31, should have a reasonable chance of acquiring some additional cash. He has three double-digit sack seasons as a pro, his most recent coming in 2021 (11). Of course, Arizona’s pass-rushing situation looks a bit different now, seeing that All-Pro Chandler Jones signed with the Raiders.
  • Elijah Mitchell‘s MCL sprain and IR trip will change the 49ers‘ backfield equation. After being inactive in Week 1, third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price will suit up against the Seahawks. Kyle Shanahan said the back end of his backfield committee, one that will be fronted by Jeff Wilson, will be a hot-hand situation between Davis-Price and rookie UDFA Jordan Mason. The latter’s special teams ability and Davis-Price’s early issues in pass protection led to him being inactive against the Bears, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News notes. Although Davis-Price has the highest draft pedigree of San Francisco’s current backs, the 49ers bailing on third-rounder Trey Sermon after one season shows Shanahan is unafraid to prioritize lower-level investments at this position.

Cardinals, DE Markus Golden Agree To Extension

The Cardinals lost their top pass rusher in free agency this spring, but they will have their new No. 1 at the position on the books for two more years. Markus Golden is signing a one-year extension with a maximum value of $6.5MM (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). 

The 31-year-old returned to Arizona last season on a two-year, $9MM deal. With this extension, he will now remain until at least 2023. Last season, Golden put up 11 sacks, his first time reaching double-digits since 2019 when he was a member of the Giants.

Golden spent less than two seasons in the Big Apple, as his 10-sack campaign to begin his New York tenure was followed by the team applying the rarely-used UFA tender on him. He remained there for the beginning of the 2020 season, but was traded back to Arizona midway through the campaign.

With Chandler Jones having signed with the Raiders in free agency, Golden now has the opportunity to operate as the top edge rusher on the Cardinals. His 35 pressures last season were the second most of his career, and Arizona is clearly investing in that total either remaining consistent or increasing over the next two years with Jones no longer in the picture.

Golden was due a non-guaranteed base salary of $2MM this season, so this extension could be aimed at providing him with a raise in the immediate future. There are likely to be incentives as part of the agreement as well. In any case, the Cardinals have cost certainty with another key player in the final days of an offseason filled with notable re-signings.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

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 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.