By Alex Gajovich Protich @AlexProtich
Markus Golden was one of the brighter spots on a Giants’ defense that ranked one of the worst in the league. He totaled 10.0 sacks, the most by a Giants linebacker since Lawrence Taylor had 10.5 in 1990. Many believe that the Giants should let Golden walk in free agency or that he should be paid top-tier money as a pass rusher. Let’s debate.
Stats: Arizona Cardinals (2015-2018)
Games Started: 24
Games Played: 46
- 6 FF
- 19.0 SK
- 119 TKL
- 26 TKFL
- 42 QB Hits
- 3 PD
New York Giants (2019):
- 0 FF
- 10.0 SK
- 72 TKL
- 13 TKFL
- 27 QB Hits
- 0 PD
Golden’s most successful season came in his sophomore season, where he totaled 12.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss and 22 quarterback hits. His career took a mild turn next year when after 4 games, he tore his ACL. The following year, he came back less productive under a new scheme with new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, after James Bettcher left for the New York Giants. He only totaled 2.5 sacks and 6 QB hits to go along with 30 tackles.
After Golden being allowed to test free agency, he signed a 1y/$3M prove-it deal with the Giants. One of the reasons being his prior relationship with James Bettcher in Arizona. In 2019, Golden had arguably the second-best year of his career. He totaled 10.0 sacks, 27 QB hits, 13 tackles for a loss and 72 tackles. His ten sacks boosted the production of a lacking pass rush that ranked 23rd in the league in sacks. Golden is now a free agent and the Giants reportedly have interest in signing him back to a multi-year deal.
Giants’ fans are split on this issue. But here’s my verdict: Giants should let Markus Golden walk in free agency. This is a very unpopular opinion among the Giants fanbase. Giants need severe help on the defense, especially pass rush. The answer, however, is not Markus Golden. Sorry Golden fans. James Bettcher is out of New York, which was one of the reasons Golden came to the Big Apple. Golden will be turning 29 in March and Joe Judge has already expressed being against signing veterans just to teach the young players.
Golden also had a pass-rush grade of 63.0 from Pro Football Focus. Not very good for someone who is reportedly also expecting a big payday. But this would be considered a huge overpay since he is not strong against the run and his pass-rush grade is deemed average. Golden could be used in other schemes as a secondary pass rusher, but not necessarily the first-tier guy. The Giants have $75M in cap space and are expected to go after primary rushers like Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue.
They also need to spend that money on the draft and other needs in the secondary and offensive line. If the Giants wanted somebody younger and less expensive, they can take chances with former Jaguars, Rams defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.