The Arizona Cardinals’ front office may one day regret that they didn’t try harder to retain free agent departure Markus Golden
Most of the individuals on the Arizona Cardinals’ 2019 free agent list were considered to be expendable. The club’s front office, for the most part, went outside of the organization to revamp the roster. There is one player from that group of former Cardinals, however, that the team may one day wish was still around.
Back in March, general manager Steve Keim and his advisors allowed edge defender Markus Golden to just walk out the door. The New York Giants, most likely on the advice of defensive coordinator James Bettcher, decided to give the 28-year old an oppurtunity. Bettcher, Arizona’s former defensive boss, is obviously familiar with Golden from their days together in the desert.
It’s a bit surprising that the Cards elected to give up on the talented Golden. Back in 2016, the former second-round draft pick appeared to be headed for superstardom. Golden, from the outside linebacker spot, recorded 12.5 sacks, 51 tackles (16 for a loss) and 22 quarterback hits in 16 appearances (three starts).
Much of Golden’s success in ’16 was attributed to a defender that Keim traded for during the offseason. Chandler Jones, lining up opposite Golden in the Cardinals’ 3-4 defense, took alot of the attention off of his linebacker mate. The pair combined for 23.5 sacks, and it appeared that they would be a feared pass-rushing tandem for years to come.
Unfortunately, things began to go south for Golden in 2017. On October 1st, during a victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the sack specialist tore the ACL in his right knee. Golden would miss the final 12 games of ’17, putting what appeared to be an ascending career on hold.
The knee injury spilled into 2018, causing Golden to miss the year’s first two matchups. Even when he returned, the former University of Missouri product seemed to be a shell of the performer he was just 24 months before. Golden would also miss the final three contests of ’18, and finished with a disappointing 2.5 sacks and 30 tackles in 11 appearances.
Arizona apparently lost patience with the suddenly unproductive Golden early on in 2019. There didn’t seem to be much of an effort by Keim to keep him in the nest. Did the Cards give up on Golden too soon?
Keim made up for the loss of Golden, but he did so with a couple of band-aids. Terrell Suggs has remained productive, but is signed for just one season. Brooks Reed was also acquired, but the former Atlanta Falcon is more of a backup at this point of his career.
There would’ve been less concern about the loss of Golden if the Cardinals had drafted Nick Bosa with the number-one overall pick. The combination of the Ohio State star and Jones would’ve done wonders for new coordinator Vance Joseph‘s defense. Instead, Keim chose to select quarterback Kyler Murray when he had the more than capable Josh Rosen already on the roster.
Only time will tell if Arizona made a mistake by not keeping Golden. There are those who will say that it was time for the veteran to go. But if Golden is able to regain his 2016 form, all of the naysayers will be proven wrong.