Cardinals Retain Pass Rushing Ace on 2-Year Deal: Report

Cardinals re-sign pass rusher Markus Golden

Getty INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 03: John Wolford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams looks to pass during the fourth quarter as he is pressured by Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Markus Golden’s reunion in Arizona lives on.

Mere minutes into the NFL’s legal tampering period, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Golden and the Cardinals have agreed to terms on a two-year deal that will pay the 30-year-old pass rusher $9 million.

Originally drafted by Arizona back in 2015 out of Missouri, Golden found his way back to the Cardinals midway through 2020. After a year-and-a-half hiatus, the team acquired Golden in trade with the New York Giants for a 2021 sixth-round pick in late October.

The former second-round pick amassed three sacks, 21 tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception over his nine games (eight starts) with the Cards this past season. Over his six-year career, Golden has accumulated 33.5 sacks, including two 10-plus sack campaigns.

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Haason Reddick Next?

Now with Golden back in the fold, the team will likely shift its focus on his fellow bookend edge rusher, Haason Reddick. The duo emerged as one of the league’s most fierce pass-rushing tandems in all of football last season. According to Pro Football Focus, Golden (55) and Reddick (55) were one of just three duos across the NFL to each record 50-plus quarterback pressures in 2020.

The Cardinals opted not to use their franchise tag on Reddick last week, despite the former first rounder being fresh off a career-best 12.5 sacks (fourth-most in NFL). Still, chances are Arizona would welcome back the 26-year-old at the right price. Considering PFF is predicting Reddick will ink a one-year deal, worth just $8 million, chances are a reunion is at least on the Cardinals’ radar. With that said, don’t be surprised if another team is willing to gamble on the one-year wonder, potentially pricing Reddick out of Arizona’s price range.

The re-signing of Golden adds the veteran to a defense that already rosters the likes of Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt and Isaiah Simmons. Add Reddick into that mix and the Cardinals have arguably one of the most feared and versatile front-seven in the NFL.

Andy Lee to Return to Arizona

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, punter Andy Lee is set to rejoin the Cardinals on a one-year deal. The 38-year-old has spent the past four seasons in Arizona and is set to embark on his 18th season in the NFL.

A three-time First-Team All-Pro, the South Carolina native has averaged 46.5 yards per punt throughout his career. During his time with the Cards, Lee has averaged a healthy 47.1 yards per punt. With that said, 2020 was a bit of a down year for the long-time vet. In 16 games this past season, Lee averaged just 44.8 yards on 58 punts — his lowest average since 2006.

In other special teams news, the Cardinals wasted no time during the legal tampering period to help ensure the return of a few other high-end contributors. Linebackers Kylie Fitts, Dennis Gardeck and Zeke Turner were each extended tender offers of varying degrees. The latter two ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in special teams tackles for Arizona in 2020, while Gardeck emerged as a defensive presence, amassing 7.0 sacks on just 94 defensive snaps.


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