Ask Markus Golden about the unusual free agent experience that saw him land back with the New York Giants and you might expect bitterness, regret, or wistfulness about the fact that he was unable to land a big, long-term contract.
You won’t find any.
“Business is business, man. I know how this stuff goes,” Golden said during a Monday afternoon videoconference. “I’ve been having that mindset since my rookie year. Really since college, man.
“I’ve got a business mindset with this. You’ve gotta have that mindset because that’s exactly what it is. Yeah, it’s football and a game we’ve been playing since we were kids, but when you get on this level and the college level you start to realize that it’s a business. That’s the mindset I keep.”
Golden said “of course I never heard of” the rarely-used May 5 unrestricted free agent tender the Giants placed on him that ultimately led to his return to New York.
“My reaction was surprised, of course,” Golden said. “For me it was business as usual, man. It’s a business at the end of the day.”
Golden will, for the second straight season, play on a one-year contract. This one will pay him $4.097 million in base salary with the opportunity to earn another $1 million in bonus money, per Over The Cap.
Golden did admit that “or course” it was frustrating to wait until the beginning of training camp officially find a place to play in 2020.
“You put a lot of work in during the season. This is a game where they say if you put the work in the hard pays off, the game is going to pay you back,” Golden said. “Of course it was frustrating but after a while you go back to that business is business mindset.”
Golden has no qualms about being back with the Giants.
“I feel good about being back,” he said. “It’s a good place, man. It’s a good place to be able to come back and be able to compete and be able to play ball.
“At the end of the day I love playing ball, and that’s what I’m about. I love playing ball, I love competing, and this is the situation I’m in right now. I can’t sit back and complain and fuss about it, I’ve gotta go out and get it no matter what. That’s the mindset I’m going to keep.”
Golden didn’t have many suitors in free agency a year ago, ending up with the Giants on a one-year “prove-it” deal. That worked out well for the Giants as he had the second double-digit sack season of his career, leading the Giants with 10. Still, he didn’t find a busy market for his services this time around, either.
“I’ve been through free agency before, and it didn’t go my way the first time around,” Golden said. “I really just was open to whatever was going to happen. Whatever was going to happen I was going to be able to go with it.
“I know this stuff can be up-and-down. It can be good for you one moment, then the next minute it can all change on you.”
No matter how it happened that Golden is back with the Giants, he said he is going to “lay it on the line.”
“I play the game for a different reason. I play the game for my family. I play the game to win. And I know what I’ve got to be able to do.”
While this could be considered another one-year “prove it” contract for Golden, the 27-year-old said he has nothing to prove after compiling double-digit sacks in each of his last two healthy NFL seasons.
“I know one thing I’m going to do is come out and compete. This offseason I worked hard, real hard to get better. Working hard up here in these workouts up here to get better. That’s what I’m going to do every day,” Golden said.
“All my years I’ve been in the league I’ve been going hard and competing and making sure I make plays to help my team win. Only time it didn’t happen is when I hurt myself. I’m feeling healthy. I don’t worry about everybody else. I don’t worry about, oh I gotta prove this to this guy. I gotta prove this. I’m not worried about that.
“If you don’t know what I can do by now you’re not even worth proving nothing to.”