With the New York Giants switching to the 3-4 scheme the past two seasons, they heavily utilized two outside linebackers in their pass-rush program, which benefitted Markus Golden, who signed a one-year deal with the team in 2019.
Golden became the first linebacker since Lawrence Taylor to reach double-digit sacks, finishing at 10.0 after a lucky stat-correction, which subsequently activated a $1 million bonus. The Giants will enter the offseason with about $80 million in cap space, opening up the potential for a Golden return (pun intended).
Not only did Golden lead the team in sacks, but he was a fantastic locker room addition, activating his leadership abilities and helping to mentor the younger players. Having been the first pass-rusher to reach double-digit sacks since Jason Pierre-Paul in 2014 (12.5), the probability of retention is likely. It ultimately boils down to his price-tag and what he’s willing to accept on a three-year deal.
The New York Giants have another option in FA that could be enticing:
Aside from Golden, one free agent option that fits the bill entirely is Tampa Bay Buccaneers’, Shaq Barrett. Barrett showed off his skill-set against the Giants this past year, logging 4.0 sacks and finishing with 19.5 on the year.
At 27 years old and a relatively clean bill of health, Barrett would be a safe addition in free agency, and the fact that he plays outside linebacker only increases his fit with Big Blue’s defense now led by Patrick Graham, who will utilize a blend of formations.
What I love about Barrett is his motor and ability to get into the backfield. Aside from his 19.5 sacks, he recorded 37 QB hits, 58 combined tackles, six forced fumbles, and one interception. While his numbers from last year are an outlier among his career totals, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic he can produce moving forward. This was his first season on a new team after spending four years with the Denver Broncos.
It seems as if Barrett needed a change of scenery to reach his potential finally, and Tampa Bay offered him that chance. The Giants would be a good landing spot with a new coaching staff in place to help him grow and maximize his efforts.