Steelers Sign Veteran to Revamp Struggling Pass Rush: Source

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.

The Pittsburgh Steelers added some veteran savviness to the pass rush, coming to terms with veteran Markus Golden on a one-year contract, league sources confirmed to Heavy.

Golden, 32, finished last season with 2.5 sacks for the Arizona Cardinals, along with 48 total tackles as a rotational rusher in the Cardinals’ front-seven.

“He’s exactly the kind of pass-rusher they love in Pittsburgh,” an AFC scouting director told Heavy. “They don’t mind size and length limitations, they just like production on the opposite side of Watt. And, listen, you can’t ever have enough pass-rushers.”

Still a productive pass-rusher at this stage of his career, Golden produced 46 total pressures in 471 snaps rushing the passer during the 2022 campaign, while garnering a 62.9 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus.

A high-motor player and strong veteran leadership voice, Golden has been productive at each of his stops throughout his career. After being chosen by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2015 draft, he went on to log 19.0 sacks through the first four seasons prior to signing with the New York Giants as a free agent in 2019.

Golden’s ceiling as a player as significantly higher early in his career, until a torn ACL in 2017. Just ask Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach James Bettcher, who was Golden’s defensive coordinator both in Arizona and with the New York Giants.

“Don’t ever forget that before [the injury] he was one of the best pass rushers in this league,” Bettcher said in 2019. “People had to plan for him. I know that because I was one of the guys calling the plays for him on defense. I saw what he was able to do when he was healthy and running around. I love how he is moving right now, and I love his work.”

Reuniting with Bettcher, in New York, Golden was the Giants’ most productive pass-rusher across a season and a half, with 10.0 sacks in 2019 and 1.5 sacks in a Giants uniform, prior to being traded back to Arizona to close out the 2020 campaign.

Through the first 111 games of his career, Golden has produced 47.0 sacks, 323 total tackles, forced 11 fumbles, and recovered 4. Look for the Steelers, and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to rotate Golden into pass-rush situations to try to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks this season.

How Markus Golden Fits the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pass-rush depth has been a dire need for the Steelers’ defense the past several seasons, and Golden arrives plenty capable of providing quality snaps.

As things currently stand, Golden likely arrives as behind T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and potentially Quincy Roche on Pittsburgh’s depth chart at EDGE.

Pittsburgh finished just 17th in sacks, with 40, in 2022, and while linebacker Nick Herbig could make an immediate impact after posting 11.0 sacks during his final season in a Wisconsin Badgers uniform, the opportunity is there for Golden to work his way into the rotation.

At a minimum, Golden arrives as the elder statesman, alongside Cameron Heyward, who had 10.5 sacks in 2022, as a mentor to some of the younger players along the Steelers front-seven.

In a quarterback talent-rich division as the AFC North is, with Joe Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals, Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens, and Deshaun Watson’s Cleveland Browns all figuring to play a role in the AFC Super Bowl chase, few things are more important for a team like the Steelers than possessing a dominant pass-rush. Golden should help in that regard.

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