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Giants get Markus Golden on a 1-year prove-it deal

Edge rusher says he’s closer to getting back to where he was before his injury

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In 2016, edge rusher Markus Golden had a breakout season when he finished tied for third in the league in sacks with 12.5 and looked ready to become a perennial top-five leader in sacks.

The following year, tragedy struck. golden suffered a torn ACL after four games. Although he made a successful recovery and returned in 2018, he wasn’t quite all the way back from his surgery and rehab.

“Since then I’ve been working hard and grinding it out and feeling way better each week,” he said during a call Friday with the Giants beat writers.

“Staying on top of working out and taking care of my knee and I’ve been really feeling like 100 percent on my way to getting back to where I was.”

These days, the arrow is pointing up for the 28-year-old Golden, who reunites with James Bettcher, his defensive coordinator in 2016 with the Cardinals.

“There’s a lot of great things about playing with James Bettcher,” Golden said.

“JB, he actually coached me when from my rookie year to my third year in the league, so me and him got a really good relationship. He was tough on me from my rookie year on to every year he coached me, so I know exactly how he coaches, and I love playing for him.”

Golden is especially glad to see that Bettcher brought his 3-4 defensive scheme with him from Arizona to the Giants, a scheme that Golden believes fits his skill set perfectly.

“His scheme, the 3-4 scheme fits me perfectly. I played in it before as you know, and after that, I love the way the defense plays, a lot of blitz and a lot of pass guys rush flying all over the field.”

With the Giants, Golden is getting a chance to pick up where he left off before that devastating knee injury.

His one-year deal with the Giants, which per a source has $2.225 million in guaranteed money (his base salary and his roster bonus), can max out at $4.75 million if he hits all his incentives.

Here is the breakdown of Golden’s cap-friendly, prove-it deal.

  • Base Salary: $975K (fully guaranteed)
  • Roster Bonus: $1.25 million (due on March 20, part of the guaranteed money)
  • Per Game Roster Bonus $93.75K for each game he is on the 46-man game-day roster ($1.5M total)
  • Workout Bonus: $25K
  • Incentives: $1 million for reaching a certain number of sacks

Overall it’s a very cap-friendly deal for the Giants, who are looking to rebuild a pass rush that last year finished tied for 30th (with the Patriots) in the league in sacks with 30.

The per-game roster bonus also protects the Giants in the event Golden, who last year only appeared in 11 games for the Cardinals, has any unforeseen physical issues that prevent him from playing.

If Golden doesn’t hit all of his incentives, that money gets credited back to the Giants cap either at the end of the year. But if he does, figure the Giants pass rush, which will also include Lorenzo Carter and probably a draft pick, will be that much better off for a lot less money.

Another defensive lineman added

The Giants also signed defensive lineman Olsen Pierre. Pierre, a 6-foot-5, 293-pounder, played in 24 games with eight starts for Arizona in 2017-18. He had 44 tackles (30 solo), 5.5 sacks (all in 2017, when Bettcher was the coordinator), nine tackles for loss and one forced fumble.