New York Giants: Markus Golden talks return to North Jersey

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants placed the unrestricted free agent tender on linebacker Markus Golden in April. After going unsigned through July 22, Golden can only play for the Giants this season, and he has reported to training camp. He’ll make roughly $4.1 million in the 2020 NFL season.

Golden feels “good” about returning to North Jersey (quotes per Giants.com’s Dan Salomone).

“I feel good about being back. It’s a good place…At the end of the day, I love playing ball.”

After going unsigned for the bulk of the offseason, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reported that Golden was “motivated” by his free agency failing to gain traction.

Golden feels that if people don’t know his game by now they’re “not worth proving it to.”

“If you don’t know what I can do by now, you’re not worth proving it to.”

Golden says he plays football for his family and “to win.”

“I play the game for my family. I play the game to win.”

The Giants signed Golden to a one-year deal last offseason. He played off the edge and started 16 games for the Giants. Golden totaled 72 combined tackles, 10 sacks and 27 quarterback hits. For his career, the Missouri product has totaled 191 combined tackles, 29 sacks and 69 quarterback hits.

Among the new faces in the team’s edge rotation is Kyler Fackrell, who the Giants signed to a one-year, $4.6 million deal in free agency. The former Green Bay Packers pass rusher is a season removed from totaling 10.5 sacks and played under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in 2018 (Graham was the Packers inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator in 2018).

The Giants selected Penn State’s Cam Brown with the 183rd pick and Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin with the 218th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They also have third-year player Lorenzo Carter and second-year player Oshane Ximines returning. Carter and Ximines totaled a combined 70 tackles and nine sacks in 2019.

New York Giants officially gain back Markus Golden on free agent tender

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants will officially enter the 2020 season with Markus Golden under contract. While his off-season has not gone the way he expected, which would have ideally landed him a multi-year extension with an NFL team, he is now on a one year deal again.

The Giants placed the rarely used free agent tender on Golden, which will pay him $4.125 million next season. That is a steal for a player who logged 10.0 sacks in 2019. He reported to the team earlier this week for COVID-19 testing and a physical, and he has clearly passed both given his signing.

The former Arizona Cardinal racked up 27 quarterback hits, 72 combined tackles, and 13 tackles for loss in 2019. While he proved his worth with the Giants, it took him 917 defensive snaps to get there. It seems that most teams didn’t want to pay Golden the money he was seeking, so the Giants ended up getting him on a bargain deal. While this might suggest that Golden is overvalued and doesn’t produce as well as the stats show, he provides value to the outside linebacker group.

Currently, the Giants have Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, Kyler Fackrell, and Golden as their primary rotational pass rushers.

 

New York Giants: Pass rusher Markus Golden reports to camp

New York Jets, Markus Golden

The New York Giants placed the unrestricted free agent tender on edge Markus Golden on April 27. On July 22 the deadline passed for Golden to sign with another NFL team, meaning he could only suit up for the Giants this season.

According to Art Stapleton of The Record, Golden has reported to the team’s training camp to begin his entry process.

Stapleton tweets out the timeline for Golden to return to the field, which includes testing and quarantining for COVID-19.

Golden will make roughly $4.2 million this season.

Golden enters his second season with the Giants. He inked a one-year deal with the Giants last offseason and led the team in sacks (10). Golden started 16 games while totaling 72 combined tackles, 27 quarterback hits and one fumble returned for a touchdown.

Giants new edge rotation

Golden, 29, joins an edge rotation with some new faces, as well as some returning players on rookie deals.

The Giants signed former Green Bay Packers pass rusher Kyler Fackrell to a one-year, $4.6 million deal in free agency. Fackrell is a season removed from recording 10.5 sacks. General manager Dave Gettleman selected two edge players on day three of the 2020 NFL Draft: Penn State’s Cam Brown (183) and Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin (218).

Third-year player Lorenzo Carter and second-year player Oshane Ximines will return for the 2020 season. The two outside linebackers recorded a combined 70 tackles and nine sacks last season.

The Giants defense will be administered by new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, previously of the Miami Dolphins. Graham was the Giants defensive line coach from 2016-17. Graham is expected to assume play-calling duties under new head coach Joe Judge.

Golden was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 58th selection in the 2015 NFL Draft out of the University of Missouri. Across 62 NFL games, 40 of which have been starts, Golden has totaled 191 combined tackles, 29 sacks and 69 quarterback hits.

New York Giants: The downside to retaining Markus Golden in 2020

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants retained Markus Golden on a free-agent tender last week, despite him not signing his contract just yet. The Giants will owe him 110% of his 2019 salary, which based on his sack production would suggest he is vastly underpaid. However, his success rate rushing the passer doesn’t blow any minds.

Golden is coming off a 10.0 sack performance in 2019, after signing a one-year “prove it” deal with the Giants. His last productive season was in 2016 when he recorded 12.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits. Considering he played 83% of defensive snaps with the Giants last year, totaling 917 plays, his numbers are heavily based on sample size.

His total snaps were nearly 200 more than any other season, with his second-highest being in 2016. He is nowhere near an elite pass rusher.

If you stack him up against Oshane Ximines, who earned just 503 snaps last year, their stats would be somewhat similar. Oshane would have logged about 9.0 sacks and 18 quarterback hits in the same sample size, as a rookie. With a year of experience under his belt, Ximines should see an increase in productivity.

Why the New York Giants might be better off without Markus Golden:

The reality is, Big Blue is still in the middle of a rebuild and need to focus on their youth players. Refining their young talent and developing them for the future part is the ultimate goal. Golden only takes away defensive snaps from players like Ximines and Lorenzo Carter.

The Giants also signed Kyler Fackrell on a one year, $4.6 million deal to supplement the expected loss of Golden. However, bringing him back will likely cement him at a starting position, which will only force Ximines into a deeper hole. Coming off a solid rookie campaign, he’s deserving of more snaps.

Golden has the decision to wait until week 10 to sign with a new team, but he would not be able to play during the 2020 regular season. Otherwise, he will play for the Giants on a one-year, $4.125 million deal.

 

New York Giants: Markus Golden’s deadline has passed, what does this mean?

New York Jets, Markus Golden

The deadline for OLB Markus Golden to be able to sign a free-agent contract with teams other than the New York Giants has officially passed as of 4 PM on Wednesday:

The calculated risk they took when they placed the rarely used unrestricted free agent tender on Golden back in April has come much closer to paying off. The fact that Golden has remained unsigned past the deadline means that if he wants to play at all this season it can only be with the Giants.

If he signs the “May 5” tender, which he has yet to do and it is unclear when he will, then he will play on a 1-year deal worth $4.125 million, which is 110 percent of his salary from last season. He doesn’t have to sign the tender right away, as he has until Week 10 of the season to do so, or else he must sit out the rest of the season.

There was some uncertainty as to when the deadline for the tender would actually be, as the original date was the first day of NFL training camp which got pushed back from Wednesday at 4 PM to July 28th, so there was speculation that the deadline would be moved as well. That, however, ended up not being the case.

Golden was looking to cash out in free agency this offseason after proving he returned to full health from a torn ACL he suffered back in 2017 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. On a 1-year, “prove it” deal, Golden racked up a team-leading 10 sacks for the Giants and played all 16 games, but unfortunately fell victim to a weak market for the free agent edge rushers and wasn’t able to cash in.

Joe Judge expressed interest in bringing back Golden earlier in the offseason but the two parties didn’t come to an agreement on a contract, which prompted the Giants to place the UFA tender on him. Here’s what Judge said in May about Golden and potentially bringing him back:

“I have a lot of respect for Markus as a player and as a person. I think he’s a tremendous guy. I think he’s a hard worker, a tough guy, he’s a productive guy on the field. So we’ve expressed it internally and we’ve talked with him as well about possibly having a fit.”

If Golden does sign the tender and returns to the team, he would reclaim his starting spot along the defensive line and provide a huge, much-needed boost to the Giants’ pass rush.

Is the New York Giants’ pass rush where it needs to be in 2020?

New York Giants, Markus Golden

On Wednesday evening, the New York Giants gained exclusive rights for pass rusher Markus Golden, who posted 10.0 sacks in 2019. Golden failed to reach a long-term extension with another team, settling for 110% of his 2019 salary. The Giants will owe him just $4.125 million in 2020, gaining his services for yet another season.

His sacks weren’t the only impressive part of this game, he also racked up 27 quarterback hits, 13 tackles for loss, and 72 combine tackles. He was a factor for the Giants, amid a unit that had predominantly youth players available.

His retention is a bit more valuable than you might think, as the Giants were prepared to rely on Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Kyler Fackrell in 2020. However, Golden’s pass-rush win rate ranked 91st among eligible contributors, so he’s not the cream of the crop.

Here’s a look at the pass rusher on the New York Giants and what they offer:

Lorenzo Carter:

Carter entered the NFL as a lanky defensive end out of Georgia. In his rookie season, he played in 15 games and started in two. His 4.0 sacks, 43 combined tackles, and 10 quarterback hits gave us the optimism we needed to justify more reps in 2019.

He enjoyed about 280 more reps in his sophomore campaign, spending a lot less time on the special teams unit and more time featuring on defense. With his added time, he only contributed 0.5 sacks, two tackles, and three quarterback hits more than his rookie campaign.

While his unfortunate performance could’ve been a scheme related issue, he simply wasn’t able to tap into the potential the Giants saw in him coming out of Georgia. Hopefully, he can utilize some of his tangible traits and become a more useful rotational pass rusher.

Kyler Fackrell:

Fackrell is an interesting player. Being left behind in 2019 due to the emergence of the Smith brothers, his last successful season was in 2018. He played in 16 games, starting in seven. He logged 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, and 12 quarterback hits.

The Giants signed him on a one year, $4.6 million deal this off-season. The hope is that he can replicate his 2018 performance when new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was his linebackers coach. Fackrell actually reminds me a lot of Golden, a player with a high motor and who is vastly undervalued. The Giants are essentially trying to buy sacks at the outside linebacker position, without investing big money in a premium pass rusher.

Oshane Ximines:

Ximines is one of my favorite young players on the Giants. I would be remiss not to mention I connected him and Osi Umenyiora, and they will work together to hopefully pass on some of the former Giants’ vintage moves.

The Old Dominion product has very similar stats compared to Lorenzo Carter in his rookie season, but they are two vastly different players. Ximines posted 4.5 sacks, 25 combine tackles, and nine quarterback hits on just 45% of defense of snaps. He missed zero tackles and looked the part has an outside linebacker in the NFL. He came out of college with more pass rash moves then you might imagine for a small school player.

He undoubtedly has the strength and potential to develop into a great player for the Giants, he just lacks the elite burst off the line of scrimmage. That is what I hope Osi can help him with. I predict he will see increased snaps in 2020, giving him the sample size he needs to finally show his true colors.

New York Giants: 3 players who could be on the trade block in 2020

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants are still in the middle of a full roster rebuilt. They took positive steps forward during this past NFL draft. Adding tackle Andrew Thomas and safety Xavier McKinney to the team should see an improvement on both sides of the ball, but the reality is, struggles will exist.

With the seventh toughest schedule in the league this year, the Giants are facing an uphill battle to success. Staying close in games and competing in the fourth quarter would be a step forward compared to 2019. Expecting a playoff appearance is lofty, and the Giants should be looking for any way to improve their roster and add value for 2021 and beyond.

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Let’s take a look at three New York Giants players who could be trade pieces this season:

1.) Evan Engram

Right off the bat, trading Evan Engram is not ideal. However, if the Giants are struggling and a playoff-contending team is looking for a receiving threat at tight end, Engram could be on the trade block.

Adding a 2/3rd round pick for his services would be a solid deal, considering his injury history and having just one more season after 2020 on his deal.

Engram has consistently seen a decrease in statistical production since his inception in the NFL in 2017. In his rookie season, he posted six touchdowns and 722 yards but has since watched his yard totals dropped to 467 in 2019. At nearly 26 years old, he has plenty of potential and prime performance left, and new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will look untap the wealth he contains.

We’ve seen what Engram can do on offense against mismatched in coverage. If he can stay on the field, there’s no question he can be one of the premier receiving threats from the position in the NFL. Again, I would prefer not to trade Evan and keep him as one of Daniel Jones’ top weapons, but if struggles arise, adding value isn’t a bad move.

2.) Golden Tate

Extracting value from players with one year left or outs in their contract is always a positive. Tate signed a four-year, $37.5 million deal with the Giants last season, but the team has an out after the 2020 campaign.

He will be turning 33 years old and counting just $5 million in dead cap space if the Giants release him. Otherwise, they will soak up an $11 million cap hit in 2021 and $8.5 million in 2022.

Benefiting off another team’s injuries is often how draft capital is accumulated, and the Giants could look to move Tate at the deadline if a team in need of a solid slot receiver comes calling. At that point in the year, he wouldn’t cost much for a playoff-contending squad, and he still has the goods to produce at a high-level. Last year with the Giants, he posted 676 yards and six touchdowns over 11 games. That was his highest touchdown total since 2015, proving he still has the ability to exceed expectations.

3.) Markus Golden (if retained)

As stated before, cashing in on short term deals is how teams like the New England Patriots stay in business for so long. Adding as much draft capital as possible and hoping a player pans out increases your probability of success.

With that being said, the Giants and new head coach Joe Judge hit Golden with the free-agent tender this off-season, which would pay him 110% of his 2019 salary. With only until July 22 to sign a multi-year deal elsewhere, it seems as if Golden will stick with the Giants for $4.125 million in 2020.

Considering no other teams pursued the double-digit sack pass rusher aggressively in free agency, the Giants should look to potentially maximize value in a trade. Again, a lot of these scenarios rely on other teams sustaining injuries and needing supplemental help. However, Markus fits the bill and can serve in a 3-4 and 4-3 base defense as either an OLB or DE.

New York Giants: Is Kyler Fackrell the pass rush answer in 2020?

New York Giants, Kyler Fackrell

When the New York Giants initially began the 2020 off-season, they were under the impression that Markus Golden would not feature on the team moving forward. Replacing his double-digit sack performance in 2019 would be difficult, but they invested in former Green Bay Packers’ pass rusher Kyler Fackrell to supplement the loss of Golden.

Since then, Golden was hit with a free agent tender, increasing the probability of his retention with the Giants. He would be paid out 110% of his salary last year, which would equate to about $4.125 million.

Nonetheless, the Giants already signed Kyler to a one-year, $4.6 million deal. At 28 years old, the former Packer has shown quality in the past, specifically in 2018, when he posted 10.5 sacks. During this season, Patrick Graham was his linebacker coach, who is currently the Giants’ new defensive coordinator. His connection with Graham is stellar and should prove to be beneficial in 2020.

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“We had that year together and we became super close, he was my inside linebacker coach,” Martinez said. “For me, what made me so excited to work with him this year and the following years is how smart he is. I think he is probably the smartest coach I’ve ever been around. The preparation he puts in every week, his intensity, just how much he cares about the game of football. It just allowed me to go in every Sunday or Monday or Thursday games fully prepared. I never felt like I didn’t know what play was going to happen next.” – Kyler Fackrell on Giants Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham

The New York Giants are looking to bring the best out of their new signing

Fackrell’s 2018 season was the best he’s had at the NFL level. He played in 59% of Packers’ defensive snaps, which was a career-high. He fell down the depth chart in 2019, though, after Green Bay signed Preston and Za’Darius Smith, two talented pass rushers who managed to supplant Fackrell as a starting player, Anthony Rivardo of ESM notes.

One team’s loss is another’s treasure. That is how the Giants see the signing of Fackrell. There is no question he is underrated, after posting 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and 18 pressures two years ago. He is also capable of playing in zone coverage, which attests to his athleticism. One positive trait he brings to the table is health. He has still struggled to cement himself as a regular starter on defense.

However, if Golden signs elsewhere (he has until July 22), Kyler will be a day one starter for Big Blue. That could be problematic considering his inconsistent history. I wouldn’t categorize the former Packer as a premium level pass rusher. He is more than capable and can supplement Markus’ sacks. Golden and Fackrell paired could be a sneaky duo at OLB.

New York Giants: What’s going on with Markus Golden and will he stick with Big Blue

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants are preparing to scheme a pass rush in 2020, especially with Markus Golden still available on the free-agent market. Relying on Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, and Kyler Fackrell could prove to be tumultuous, considering the limited sample size and inconsistent production.

Ximines, who is entering his second year in the NFL, represents a solid player with good pass rush moves. Still, as we saw with Lorenzo Carter in 2019, improvement isn’t guaranteed. Fackrell, who posted 10.5 sacks in 2018 with Patrick Graham as his linebackers coach in Green Bay, was expected to fill the role of Golden, who was hit with a free agent tender on May 5 by the Giants and new HC Joe Judge.

The free-agent tender is a rarely used move. Judge’s knowledge from his time with the New England Patriots is proving useful already.

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The New York Giants enjoyed solid production from Golden in 2019

Golden, who posted 10.0 sacks and 27 quarterback hits his first year with the Giants, has the option of signing a one-year extension for $4.125 million or signing elsewhere.

It seems as if his peak monetary value is where the Giants have listed him at 110% of his 2019 salary. Given the lukewarm sense that any team is keen on spending over $5 million on his services, the Giants seem to be the favorites in retaining him.

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Ultimately, Golden brings a high motor player with a few decent pass rush moves. A good portion of his sacks were results of coverage and a nonstop motor. Hitting double digits was fantastic for him, but teams are starting to steer away from the sack model and more toward disruption and drawing of double teams.

Nonetheless, adding him to the pass rush rotation is only beneficial for a team that can’t be confident in the players currently on the roster. Being optimistic about their production is much different than confidence, which is why Graham will likely utilize safeties and linebackers to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

New York Giants: Where Will The Pass-Rush Come From In 2020?

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants‘ defense has struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks in recent seasons. The Giants lack a top edge rusher on their current roster. Markus Golden was a solid contributor in 2019, totaling 10 sacks, but he is not guaranteed to remain with the Giants in 2020. Now, with a new defensive scheme being installed and a new group of defenders added, where will the pass-rush come from in 2020?

Patrick Graham’s Defensive Scheme

The majority of the pass-rush will come from new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. Patrick Graham runs a blitz-heavy, man-to-man defense:

“Graham had a great defensive scheme in place. The two major play calls of the Miami defense were blitzing and man to man coverage. Graham was very clever with his blitzing packages, using a variety of linebacker and defensive back blitzes. In Miami, Graham would also send in delayed blitzes to really disturb an offense. This was not just done in between the gaps; the blitzes came from different spots on the field. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps, 41% on third down (which was the third-most in the league). The Dolphins ran man to man coverage 50% of the time in the 2019 season and would often show blitz and drop back into coverage. This was a great strategy in the Graham defense, keeping opposing offenses on their toes because of the constant blitzing formations.” – Jack Quartararo of Empire Sports Media

With an emphasis on blitzing, Patrick Graham will scheme together the Giants’ pass rush. The Giants’ defense will run many complex blitzes to get after opposing quarterbacks. But who will be executing these blitzes for the Giants?

The Personnel

The Giants do not have a top-tier edge rusher. None of the players on the team’s roster are expected to dominate opposing offensive lines and rack up 15 sacks in a season. However, the team has added some underrated players. These players fit perfectly into Patrick Graham’s scheme and will help him generate a pass rush.

Kyler Fackrell, the former Green Bay Packers edge rusher, was one of the Giants’ key additions in the 2020 offseason. In 2018, with a career-high in snaps, Kyler Fackrell recorded career-highs with 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 18 pressures. In 2019, though, Fackrell saw a huge decrease in playing time, being on the field for only 40% of the team’s snaps. Maybe reuniting with Graham and seeing an increase in playing time will lead to another 10+ sack season from Kyler Fackrell.

The Giants’ new addition in their secondary, safety Xavier McKinney, will also help boost the defense’s pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier recorded 21 pressures across 71 pass-rushing snaps in the last two years. He also totaled 3 sacks in each of his last two seasons. McKinney is an excellent pass-rusher from the safety position, making him a perfect fit in Patrick Graham’s blitz-heavy system.

In 2020, the New York Giants will have to implore a pass-rush by committee. The scheme will need to generate pressure to make up for the lack of a top-tier edge rusher on the team. Luckily for Patrick Graham, he has a group of underrated pass rushers at multiple positions that will help him get the job done.