Distinguished Free Agent Edge Rusher Visits Steelers: Report

Ex-Cardinals edge Markus Golden

Chris Coduto/Getty Images Markus Golden of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after recording a sack against the Houston Texans on October 24, 2021.

On Tuesday May 23 unrestricted free agent edge rusher Markus Golden visited the Pittsburgh Steelers, this according to Jordan Schultz, NFL Insider at The Score.

As noted by Schultz, Golden — who is 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds — has had three NFL seasons in which he recorded 10 or more sacks. The 32-year-old is a former 2nd-round pick of the Cardinals (No. 55 overall out of Missouri) who played out his rookie contract in Arizona before spending a year-and-a-half with the New York Giants in 2019-20. The Cards reacquired him in an October 2020 trade with the Giants, giving up a 2021 6th-round selection to bring Golden back to the desert.

Markus Golden Has 47 Career Sacks, 11 Career Forced Fumbles

In the past two seasons Golden appeared in 33 games for the Cardinals and recorded 89 total tackles (48 solo) and 13.5 sacks. All told, he has played in 111 regular-season games and been credited with 301 tackles, 61 tackles for loss, 47 sacks, an interception, seven passes defensed and 11 forced fumbles, as per NFL.com. Last year he earned a 65.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), down from the 73.5 grade he received in 2021 but up from the 59.9 overall grade he produced in 2020.

If the Steelers sign Golden, he would be in line to serve as the primary backup outside linebacker behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. The Steelers also added Nick Herbig (Wisconsin) in the 4th round of the 2023 draft, but it’s probably unrealistic for a rookie to step into the No. 3 role right away.

In recent years, Pittsburgh has not had much stability in terms of the depth at outside linebacker. The Steelers seemed to have a keeper when Melvin Ingram III signed with the team in 2021, but Ingram forced a trade (to the Kansas City Chiefs) in the middle of the ’21 season. Then in 2022 the Steelers acquired Malik Reed in a trade with the Denver Broncos but Reed failed to live up to expectations. Moreover, the Steelers parted ways with Jamir Jones on May 2, 2023, in the immediate aftermath of an off-the-field incident in Florida.

Roster Space Isn’t an Issue

The Steelers released three players on May 22 — including a pair of linebackers in Tae Crowder and Emeke Egbule — so there is already room on the offseason roster if general manager Omar Khan wants to add a name or three. Also released on Monday was running back Master Teague III, who spent time with the Steelers last year but did not appear in a game.

That said, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) got underway on May 23 with 87 players on the roster. Other recent cuts included veteran cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Arthur Maulet, the latter of whom asked to be released following a “difference of opinion” over his contract status.

According to Steelers.com, OTAs are scheduled for May 23-24-25, then May 30-31-June 1, and then June 5-6-7-8.

The Steelers will hold a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15, 2023. Training camp is expected to get underway at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe sometime during the last week of July.

The Steelers play their first preseason game on Friday August 11 at Tampa Bay and hosts a preseason game eight days later against the Buffalo Bills.