Golden led the pass rush challenged Giants with 10.0 quarterback sacks during a comeback season in 2019. Playing on a one-year “prove it” contract Golden, who turns 29 later this month, had his best season since a breakout 2016 campaign in which he registered a career-high 12.5 sacks for the Arizona Cardinals.
Both of those seasons came with James Bettcher, fired by the Giants at the end of the season and currently without an NFL job, as his defensive coordinator.
Golden reportedly has “interest” in returning to the Giants. It’s likely the Giants have at least some level of interest in bringing Golden back, as well, but price tag, fit and what else the market will bear could have an impact.
While Golden is a good locker room presence, hard worker, plays the run and can play standing up as well as with his hand in the ground, the Giants have to wonder how successful he might be in a scheme not orchestrated by Bettcher.
Spotrac’s Market Vale Tool estimates Golden’s price could reach $13.5 million annually, and that is a lot of money for a guy good but not great pass rusher.
Golden is ranked No. 76 on SB Nation’s list of the top 100 free agents. Pro Football Focus ranks Golden outside their top 100 free agents and has him as their 84th-highest graded edge player in 2019.
In a buyer beware piece on this year’s free agent edge rushers, PFF writes:
Another player whose sack and pressure totals don’t necessarily tell an accurate story of his season, Markus Golden managed to hit double-digit sacks, and his 64 total pressures ranked 15th in the league — just behind Everson Griffen. The issue, though, is that fully half of that pressure was either clean up or pursuit pressure. It’s not that these are bad plays — in some instances, they can be extremely noteworthy hustle plays — it’s just that they aren’t predictive of future performance in the way clean wins against a blocker are, and Golden struggled far more with that aspect of pressure. Injuries have robbed us of the player Golden was when he first burst into the league, and you now have to go back four seasons to find his very best play.