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Markus Golden a name worth watching for Giants if he reaches free agency

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EDGE rusher had success with James Bettcher before tearing ACL

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Markus Golden pressures Kirk Cousins.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Martin got his chance to start for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017 when Markus Golden suffered a torn ACL. He parlayed a good season into a three-year, $15 million free agent contract with the New York Giants last offseason.

Still looking for impact edge players, could the Giants this time turn to Golden instead of his understudy? A four-year veteran. the soon-to-be 28-year-old Golden is expected to test the free agent waters.

Golden said Wednesday on Sirius XM NFL Radio that he had not ruled out returning to Arizona.

“My agent’s been talking to them, on and off, during the season, so I never cut out the possibility of returning,” Golden said. “We’ll see how it works out, man.”

If he does reach the open market, the Giants would seem to make sense as a suitor. Martin was adequate in his first year with the Giants, but isn’t really a difference maker. Connor Barwin was let go. The status of Olivier Vernon for 2019 is a question mark.

The draft is considered to be deep in edge rushers, but with needs across the roster could the Giants choose to address this one in free agency?

A second-round pick in 2015, Golden had a breakout season for the Cardinals in 2016, registering 12.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits while playing opposite Chandler Jones. Current Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher was running the Arizona defense at the time.

The basics

Age: 28 in March
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 260
Experience: 4
Position: EDGE

2018 stats: 11 games | 2.5 sacks | 30 tackles (5 for loss) | 6 quarterback hits | 2 passes defensed

Pro Football Focus: Overall grade (52.3) | Run defense (50.8) | Tackling (83.0 — 0 missed tackles) | Pass rush (68.2) | Pass-rush productivity (10.0 — 11th among edge rushers)

Quotable

Markus Golden on what kind of player he expects to be in 2019

The skinny

Let’s start with a clip that tells us a little bit about Golden and his recovery from that torn ACL.

Golden suffered a torn ACL four games into the 2017 season. That derailed a career that appeared ready to take off, and opened the door for Martin.

Golden described his rehab to The Athletic [subscription only], saying his idea was always that “no matter what I’m going to make it work out.”

The 2018 season began with Golden still sidelined. He eventually appeared in 11 games, but registered only 2.5 sacks. He wasn’t what he had been before the injury. As the quote above indicates, though, Golden expects to return to that 2016 form.

What might Golden be worth on the open market? That is a good question considering his past two seasons. Do NFL teams believe Golden can return to his 2016 form? Are they willing to pay for that promise? Will they be looking to get a discount because of the injury and lack of real production for two seasons now?

More to the point, could Golden be ticketed to rejoin Bettcher with the Giants?