One of the more underspoken storylines of this grueling Arizona Cardinals season has been the lack of pass rush the Cardinals have manufactured. Minus Chandler Jones, no one on the Cardinals defensive line in Coach Wilks’ 4-3 scheme has been able to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which has put a lot of strain on what is already a perilously thin secondary.
Yes, the Cardinals give up the 4th fewest passing yards per game in the NFL, but that stat has not translated in terms of sacks generated and points allowed. Arizona is 21st in points allowed per game at 25.2 and 17th in sacks with 35 on the season. Jones has 12 of them alone.
A player that the Cardinals were expecting a big rebound from was Markus Golden. Golden is in the final year of his rookie contract and, before tearing his ACL at the beginning of last season, was a 12.5 sack player in 2016. He played defensive end in college and the prevailing thought was that he would be a perfect fit in the Wilks scheme.
So far this season, Golden has only tallied 1.5 sacks.
Granted, Golden is coming off the ACL injury and it is rare to see a player return to their prime form in the first year back from an injury of that magnitude, but I am sure the coaching staff was counting on something more than just the 1.5 sacks he has.
This puts Golden in a situation with his contract that is a bit reminiscent of one of his former teammates in John Brown. Brown had a huge breakout year in 2015, but was riddled with injuries after that and ended up taking a one year flier with the Baltimore Ravens after his rookie contract expired. It would not be surprising in the least if Golden ended up taking the same path and accepting a one-year “prove it” deal, either with the Cardinals or another team in the league.
We have seen the potential Golden has and there has never been a question about his motor. He has no off-field issues and is not a risk in that regard, so someone will sign him to a one year contract with incentives. Then again, someone could sign him to a multi-year deal, but that seems highly unlikely at this juncture.
So if a one-year contract is his destiny, the only question that remains is which team it will be with...