Giants Sign Top Free-Agent Pass-Rusher

Giants coach appears to shade Markus Golden

Getty Markus Golden celebrates with Giants teammates

He’s Back! After a whirlwind offseason that included a shockingly dry free-agent market and concerns about a potential holdout, edge defender Markus Golden is officially back with the New York Giants.

The Giants announced on Tuesday that Golden, the team’s leading sack artist from 2019, has signed his UFA Tender, which according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, will set his salary at “roughly $5.1M” for the 2020 season.

Golden Put Together 1 of the Best Giants Seasons in Recent Memory

Golden, 29-years-old, is coming off one of the greatest seasons by a Giants pass-rusher in recent memory. The outside linebacker took a prove-it deal with Big Blue last offseason following a number of injury-plagued campaigns with the Cardinals, and prove-it he did.

Golden’s 10 sacks in 2019 were the most by a Giants player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 12.5 sacks way back in the 2014 season. Yet, Golden’s production went well beyond his impressive sack numbers. The edge defender also ranked within the top-15 of the NFL in both tackles for loss and quarterback hits, while also proving capable of staying healthy, appearing in all 16 regular-season games for Big Blue.

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Golden’s Unusual Offseason & Giants’ Savvy Business Move

Golden started this offseason as an unrestricted free-agent, yet despite his stellar production, failed to pique many teams’ interest out the gates on the open market. He was said to have been in contact with the Detroit Lions in late April, however, clearly nothing materialized beyond that.

Following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, Big Blue would go on to place the seldomly used UFA Tender, otherwise known as the May 5 Tender, on Golden, greatly increasing the likelihood of retaining their top pass-rusher at a bargain price.

Golden failed to find employment elsewhere prior to the UFA Tender deadline which was set for the first day of training camp, in return reverting his exclusive rights to the Giants for the forthcoming season.

With his salary essentially set in place due to the tender, Golden was left with little wiggle room in terms of negotiations. There was slight speculation of a potential holdout from the former Missouri standout. Of Golden went to Week 10 of the 2020 regular season without signing a deal with New York, he would then be forced to sit out the remainder of the year. Sitting out would have allowed him to once again hit the free agency market in 2021. With that said, considering the lack of interest he received during this year’s free-agency, a holdout was likely never truly an option.

Golden’s inability to land a favorable deal on the open market has certainly proven to be one of the most puzzling outcomes of this offseason. In a league in constant search of players with the ability to get after the opposing quarterback, Golden does it as good as almost anyone. This is further evident by the fact that he has now posted double-digit sacks in each of the past two seasons that he’s appeared in more than 12 games.

While Golden may feel a certain type of way for how this offseason has played out, the Giants are likely ecstatic to regain their top edge defender and at a bargain price. All Golden can do now is go out there and once again prove his worth on yet another prove-it deal, hoping that this time, the repercussions will be much more beneficial to his long-term finances.


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