New York Giants: 2020 made Markus Golden consider retirement

New York Giants, Markus Golden

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.

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.

New York Giants: Last 2019 free agent gone with Golden Tate cut

New York Giants, Golden Tate

Free agency is the kind of thing that can build a team up. Many teams have acquired lasting players that way, and made the leaps they need to improve. But for the New York Giants, 2019 definitely wasn’t the year for them when it comes to free agents. We’re only a couple of years later in 2021 and none of the free agents from 2019 are still here.

Most of them were gone already by the time we got to this point. Antoine Bethea was one of the oldest players on the team during his time with the Giants and was never expected to serve in his safety role as more than a stopgap until the draft.

Markus Golden, on the other hand, was the leader for sacks in 2019 but would end up traded during the 2020 season after the Giants strangely underutilized him and hardly gave him playing time in the new defensive scheme.

Golden Tate being cut for cap space removes the last member of that 2019 free agent class from the current group of players. It was of course, expected that he would be out of the door as soon as last season ended.

That’s partly for cap reasons, but also because of controversy. Last season, Tate wasn’t the most popular player with the coaching staff after his outburst on the sidelines and his wife’s behavior on social media landed him in hot water.

And with Tate’s production dropping from last season, it only makes sense for the Giants to move on due to all those factors.

The 2020 free agent class was far more successful than the 2019 one, but hopefully the Giants will take a look back at 2019 this year and use it as a learning experience.

New York Giants: Markus Golden hits out at team over playing time

New York Jets, Markus Golden

The case of Markus Golden for the New York Giants has been an interesting one. During the 2019 season, Golden was a surprise hit and led the team in sacks during a year when they struggled in that category. The following season, Golden would fall out of the spotlight after it initially appeared he wouldn’t end up with the Giants again and then lost much of his playing time. Eventually, he was traded back to the Arizona Cardinals – the same team that he started with before ending up in New York.

Since leaving the Giants, however, Golden would pick up his game and would finish the season as part of one of the top QB pressuring duos in the league, in Arizona. When this fact was highlighted by Pro Football Focus on Twitter, Golden was quick to take to the site to remind the Giants about that, also.

Golden would be less a part of the defense under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. While Graham made most of the defense better under his watch, it appears Golden was one player who experienced an opposite effect. He was a starter for 9 games last season, compared to starting every game during the 2019 season. Of those games, 8 of them came with Arizona and only one start came with the Giants.

Golden would also only register 10 tackles with the Giants in 2020. That’s a big step down from the 72 from the previous year.

The role of pass rushing leader was mainly taken over by Leonard Williams. Williams had one of the biggest improvements under Graham, jumping to double digit sacks and setting himself up for a payday – but whether that payday is with the Giants or another team remains to be seen.

Either way, given the trade, it won’t be Golden leading the sacks column like in 2019.

The New York Giants need to be sellers at the trade deadline and nothing else

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The Nov. 3 NFL trade deadline is quickly approaching, and the New York Giants find themselves in an interesting dilemma.

They aren’t a playoff-caliber team, not by a long shot, and yet they are still firmly in the race for the NFC East division title despite sitting at 1-5 on the season. Coming off a close win against the Washington Football Team last week, if the Giants win their second divisional game in a row Thursday night against the Eagles, they would be tied for first place in the division.

Getting a win on Thursday, however, could be potentially dangerous for the Giants. Not to say winning is bad, but the Giants being right in the thick of the NFC East race might prompt general manager Dave Gettleman to try and make a move to acquire a player at the trade deadline in an effort to win the division. That is the opposite of what the Giants should be doing, as they are a rebuilding team who needs to acquire more draft capital by giving away players, not the other way around.

Gettleman is widely expected to be let go after the season, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, and this could force him to go into desperation mode at the deadline. But, the reality is this team is nowhere near in position to be giving up more draft picks and future assets because they aren’t a win-now team, no matter where they are in the divisional standings.

The Giants only have five picks in the 2021 NFL Draft as is, after giving up a 5th in the Leonard Williams trade last year and a 7th for cornerback Isaac Yiadom right before the season started. The last thing they can afford is having even less draft picks to work with for this draft and potentially beyond, especially if there’s going to be a new general manager calling the shots.

There have been some players around the league rumored to be potential trade targets who could help the Giants, such as Cincinnati Bengals speedy wide receiver John Ross. The former first-round pick could provide a much-needed boost for the Giants lackluster passing game and give Jason Garrett an intriguing down-field threat to work with.

But, no matter who may be available via trade, the Giants need to resist the temptation and look at the big picture. Making a move at the deadline that would possibly help the team in the short-term would handicap them in the long-term, and that’s what this team should be focusing on. Is it really worth it for the Giants bring in a player who gets them to maybe 6-7 wins at best and buys them a first-round exit in the playoffs? Not only that but by winning the division, the Giants would have a late first-round pick and miss out on a lot of the top draft prospects, which would be a nightmare scenario.

The Giants need to be looking at players on their roster who they can potentially move for any semblance of value. Some possible options include wide receivers Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, and outside linebacker Markus Golden. If they can draft picks for any one of those players, they need to pull the trigger and stock up for the future.

With Gettleman seemingly on his way out, Joe Judge and the Giants need to stop Gettleman from giving in and making another Leonard Williams-type trade in a last-ditch effort to try and save his job. This team needs to be focusing on building for the future, getting any value they can for expendable players who aren’t part of the long-term plan, and developing the young players they have on the roster currently.

Therefore, the Giants need to be sellers this trade deadline rather than buyers because the only thing they would be buying themselves is another ticket on the same carousel they’ve been riding since 2011.

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.