The NFL is comically undervaluing Markus Golden. The NY Giants need an edge rusher and a leader in the worst way; time to finally make it happen.
Man, if you’re Markus Golden, you’ve got to be wondering what on earth you have to possibly do at this point to get paid. After two double-digit sack years in just four full seasons (only played 4 games in 2017), including one with the NY Giants, it’s beyond a mystery why Golden remains unsigned.
Are his demands high? Maybe. But firstly, I’m not really buying that, and secondly what would quantify as Markus Golden’s demands being too high? For his production, in my eyes, I’d see about $13M+ as starting to be legitimately out of his range.
However, the great news for the NY Giants is that Golden is not going to sign for anywhere near that amount. I’ve long campaigned for Big Blue to bring back it’s 2019 sack leader – even thinking the team should lock him up before free agency started – and that feeling has only grown stronger now that Golden has lasted well into the second week of free agency.
While this development is bad news for Marks Golden – who is a terrific guy – it’s actually fantastic news for the Giants. A contract before free agency was expected to exceed $11M per season over multiple years. No one knows exactly what he’ll get now, but it’s going to be far less than that.
Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger ‘talent over character/leader’ guy than me, Markus Golden possesses both in spades. This Big Blue defense is historically young, having just one player 28 years or older, and in turn, it needs an unquestioned outspoken leader than actually backs up their play (basically the anti-Alec Ogletree).
Funny enough, the main reason Golden remains unsigned isn’t actually his injury history (he tore his ACL in 2017), but rather many over-analyzing how he got his 10 sacks to a comically uninformed degree. Did Markus Golden get some hustle sacks in 2019? Sure. Did he get put in a good spot scheme-wise for one or two of them? Yes.
But what edge rusher could you not say the same about? I’ve yet to do the complete film work on all 10 sacks, but I’ve already isolated four sacks that were one-on-one beatdowns by the edge rusher. Not to mention, criticizing a player for getting a ‘hustle sack’ is so foolish it’s almost beyond reproach. If anything, a ‘hustle sack’ seems to be the most repeatable type of sack.
The effect Golden had on young players like O’Shane Ximines is something that’s simply unquantifiable. Again, to me, leadership is mostly overrated outside the quarterback position, but having a rabid dog type player on your defense that is able to give players useful tactful advice is extremely valuable.
The only potential roadblock here is the NY Giants’ lack of cap space at the moment. Currently, Spotrac projects Big Blue to have just over $5M in 2020 cap space when factoring in the draft class. That’s already far below what Dave Gettleman wants to go into the 2020 season with, although after cutting down the roster in August that number will already go up on its own when a few vets will undoubtedly be released.
While the Giants don’t have a ton of players with big contracts that can be restructured without potentially badly hurting the team down the road (I.E. Nate Solder), there is some flexibility available. Spencer Pulley has become somewhat expendable now with the extra offensive line depth and the overriding possibility that the Giants grab a center in the first three rounds in the draft. Cutting Pulley, who is a mediocre player at best and not the answer at center would save almost $3M in cap space.
There’s also the scenario where the Giants brass goes against what they’ve done all offseason and backload a solid portion of Golden’s deal. I am and have been heavily against this practice, but in this specific instance where we’re discussing such a talented player at our biggest position of need, it’s on the table.
So, what could a potential contract look like that’s a win for both sides? How about 4 years/$30M with about half of that guaranteed? It’s less than Golden was anticipating and deserves, but it’ll still set him and his family up for life. Don’t underestimate how much that means to him, either, as he had a rough upbringing and still hasn’t made much in the NFL.
There is a player on the market who we already know brings it every down, makes an impact and is a terrific locker room guy. He also happens to fill our biggest need.
It’s time to take advantage of the rest of the NFL overlooking him and to re-sign Markus Golden.