Linebacker Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals sacks quarterback Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants and forces a fumble in the first quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on December 13, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cardinals recovered the fumble. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Outside linebacker Markus Golden took his talents to the New York Giants in 2019 following a four-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals.
Recording 19 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles in the first 46 games (24 starts) of his career, it seemed Golden was going to continue his disruptive ways in the NFC East.
Through his first 16 games with New York that was the case.
Golden set new career marks for tackles (72) and QB hits (27), while posting double digit sack numbers (10) for the second time in his career. He also scored a touchdown off of a fumble recovery, and started all 16 games, another couple of firsts for the OLB.
The same couldn’t be said for Golden’s 2020 in the Big Apple.
Starting in just one of the seven first games of the season, Golden’s snap counts drastically dipped. He had just one game — not the lone start — where he played more than 34% of his snaps.
Opportunities dwindle when you are stuck on the sideline, as Golden was held to just 1.5 sacks, 10 tackles, two for losses, and six QB hits.
Stuck in a frustrating situation that he seemingly had zero control over, Golden had little way out.
That is until the Cardinals came calling.
Looking to replenish the depth at the outside linebacker spot following the season-ending injury to Chandler Jones, the team that drafted Golden in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft swooped him up once again in a trade with the Giants.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“A lot of people don’t know, I was going through a lot down there in New York. … I felt like last year in New York, I got out there, I competed, I did everything to prove that I was the guy and they didn’t give me the opportunity so that took my love away from the game a little bit,” Golden said via Zoom on Wednesday. “Not gonna lie, that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit, because that’s what the game’s always been about.
“If you work hard do what you’re supposed to do on the field you’re gonna be out there. I felt a little disrespected by New York, so when the Cardinals came and traded for me it was a blessing. Because it’s like, who else is gonna come save me and get me out of a situation like this? The Cardinals.”
Instead of being relegated to the bench, Golden started the final eight games of the season for the Cardinals after getting his feet wet in Week 9 with a sack.
All told, he compiled three sacks, 23 tackles, four of which were for losses, an interception, two passes defensed and a forced fumble to close out the season.
On Monday, he was rewarded for his play with a two-year deal to stick around in the desert, despite having other NFL teams reaching out for his services. It’s a much different scenario than what he originally had playing in his head during the doom and gloom in New York.
“It was a blessing because nobody else would have saved me from that,” Golden said. “There was times where I thought about, ‘Man after this year, I’m going to retire and hang it up.’ I play the game to compete and I felt I wasn’t allowed to do that. It kinda made me not want to play. Being able to come back here and play for the Cardinals, it got me back going. It got me back motivated, got me back to my old self. And I was able to get out there and compete like I know I could.”
“It’s big. … Me being honest, I don’t wanna play nowhere else,” Golden added. “I wanna come here and help the Cardinals win. I know I can still help a team win at a high level and I can play at a high level. I’d rather be here and help my team, the Arizona Cardinals, win a championship.”