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Golden at the Core

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the 2015 NFL Draft the Cardinals nearly missed out on drafting Missouri EDGE dynamo Markus Golden. But, thanks to the Lions taking Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah, the Cardinals shifted gears and made arguably their their best back to back Day 2 picks in recent decades in tabbing Golden in round 2 and then Northern Iowa RB David Johnson in round 3.

Abdullah was a bust in Detroit while Golden and Johnson put up near league leading numbers in 2016, with Golden registering 51 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks and Johnson amassing 2,168 combine yards rushing/receiving and 20 TDs.

Even though David Johnson was lost for the season after one half in 2017, the Cardinals re-signed Johnson to a 3 year contract extension.

Markus Golden had a harder injury to come back from. Like Johnson, he was largely misused by the previous coaching staff. The Cardinals should at least re-sign Golden to a one year deal.

Here are the reasons why.

  • Golden was lost for the 2017 because of his ACL tear. He rehabbed like a madman to get back on the field in 2018. Impressively he made it back by week 6.
  • When he returned, he was being used as a “6 technique” in Steve Wilks’ 43 defense. Anyone who knows Markus Golden’s game, knows he is best suited as a “7 technique.”
  • The Cardinals are bringing back the 34 where Golden is a natural fit.
  • Even though Golden was playing a 43 DE position that did not maximize his talents and working is way back from the ACL injury, in 11 games he registered 30 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. There were some flashes of the Markus Golden of old.
  • Golden has earned his stripes as a core player. He is a leader, a fierce competitor, a tireless worker and a junkyard dog on the football field.
  • He epitomizes toughness, something the Cardinals need to reward, not send packing.
  • He is loved by his teammates.

Market Value:

At this point it may best suit Golden to bet on himself and sign a one year incentive laden deal, somewhere in the $3M range, with $100K bonuses for each sack.

The dilemma he is likely to face is whether to accept a 3 year deal in the $5M a season range with say the New York Giants, with $6M in guaranteed money.

If he has a big year in 2019, he can find himself in position to cash in on a 3 year deal in 2020 that could be more than twice the money than what he would have to settle for in 2019.

Would the Cardinals re-signing Markus Golden rule out their drafting of Nick Bosa?

If Golden signs a one year deal, as Brooks Reed did, then Bosa or any edge rusher is still in play.

If Golden signs a multi-year deal that is in excess of $5M a year, then, that would be an indication that the Cardinals will likely be drafting at another position in the 1st round.

It’s not every day that a player of Markus Golden’s character, work ethic and tenacity walk through your doors and don your uniform every day.

The Cardinals can make a timely statement to their own players by maintaining their investment in Golden. Golden sets the kind of example that the Cardinals need to capitalize on.