Markus Golden

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 SI.com 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.