2020 was not the ideal year for former New York Giants OLB Markus Golden – at least before his trade back to the Cardinals. Golden started out with the Giants after not finding another team in free agency, and came back to them as their sacks leader from 2019. It looked like Golden was poised to have a similar performance due to a lackluster pass rush for the Giants, but instead it was Leonard Williams that stepped up in the new system and Golden fell to the wayside.
Golden would only register 1.5 sacks with the Giants in 2020 and hardly made an impact in the tackling game either, as one of the few players on the defense from last season that didn’t benefit from the change to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
And before he was traded back to the Cardinals where his performance would pick up, things seemed bleak for Golden career wise.
LB Markus Golden, talking after re-signing with the @AZCardinals, admitted he had some thoughts of retiring while with Giants last season because he felt he had earned playing time and he wasn't getting the opportunity. Said how Giants dealt with him "rubbed me the wrong way."
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) March 17, 2021
We’re learning now that Golden thought about retirement at least once last season due to not getting playing time, and he said that he felt the experience rubbed him the wrong way. It’s easy to see why Golden might feel that way, given the difference in how the Giants used him compared to the Cardinals.
Of course, under a new defensive coordinator, not everyone is going to be happy. Patrick Graham was able to get the best out of some players like Leonard Williams – but naturally, someone will fall through the cracks. Last season, that was Golden.
Whether his lack of play was due to a lack of adjustment on his part or because of team mismanagement, we won’t know without having more insider information. But the situation resolved itself when the Giants made a mid season trade to send him away to his former franchise.
Now, Golden is playing on a line with J.J. Watt and Williams is staying with the Giants on a long term deal that may finally let them hold onto a pass rusher again for more than a couple years.