OLB Markus Golden Returns to Cardinals Via Trade with Giants

Mason Kern

When Arizona Cardinals All-Pro outside linebacker Chandler Jones suffered a season-ending biceps injury against the New York Jets in Week 5, it created more opportunity for players to fill his shoes. However, the position group has faced other injuries that have limited participation in practices. So, the franchise turned to a familiar face with the trade deadline approaching, trading for outside linebacker Markus Golden from the New York Giants in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Golden, 30 in March, returns to the Cardinals — pending completion of his physical and clearing COVID-19 guidelines — after previously playing four years with Arizona from 2015-18 when he appeared in 46 games (24 starts). He originally joined the team as a 2015 second-round draft choice out of Missouri. With the Cardinals, Golden posted 19 sacks, 119 tackles (97 solo), six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, including a career-high 12.5 sacks with the Cardinals in 2016.

A torn ACL in Week 4 that ended Golden's 2017 season after playing just those four games led to a decrease in production the following year, when he played in 11 contests and had just 2.5 sacks.

Golden signed with the Giants during the 2019 free agency period and contributed 10 sacks and 72 tackles (37 solo, 35 assisted) while starting all 16 games. He has appeared in all seven games with New York this year, making one start, and has 10 tackles (four solo, six assisted), six quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass defensed on the year.

Golden was in an unusual situation with the Giants this past offseason. He became an unrestricted free agent in March, but a reported asking price of $10 million per year led to him remaining unsigned. On May 5, the Giants made a qualifying offer to Golden that gave them exclusive negotiating rights if he wasn't signed by another team as of July 22.

Golden then signed a 1-year contract with the Giants on Aug. 4 worth $3.75 million with $2.25 million guaranteed. After seven weeks, $1.544 million of the guarantee has been paid. The guarantee is essentially meaningless because any vested veteran on an opening-day roster has his salary fully guaranteed for that season.

Earlier Friday during his weekly appearance on the Doug & Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, the Cardinals' flagship station, general manager Steve Keim said there were no trade deals "imminent." Yet, he did admit that when opportunity presented itself, Arizona would capitalize.

"As always, we are certainly doing our due diligence and we've had several conversations," Keim said. "I wouldn't say there's any deals imminent, but if there's an opportunity for us in the next couple days to make a trade that can improve our roster, we'll certainly take that chance. But, it's like anything else, it takes two to tango. And these conversations are always ongoing."

Arizona is taking a flyer on Golden for the remainder of the season, considering he is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the year. He is due $2.4 million in salary.

The Cardinals now have six outside linebackers on the active roster as Golden joins Devon Kennard, Haason Reddick, Dennis Gardeck, Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving. The franchise also has Reggie Gilbert and Reggie Walker at the position on the practice squad.

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