NY Jets should take advantage of limited Markus Golden interest

NY Jets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets should consider taking advantage of the limited reported interest in Markus Golden.

The NY Jets have been searching for a solution at the edge rusher position for well over a decade now. And while that solution may not be readily available to them right now, one player who could alleviate the issue is Markus Golden.

Golden surprisingly remains a free agent into July despite a standout 2019 season that saw him total 10 sacks in his first year with the New York Giants.

The Giants decided to place the rarely-used unrestricted free agent tender on the talented pass rusher back in April that allowed him to search for more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

Essentially, the tender states that Golden can only play for the Giants in 2020 if no other team signs him before the July 22nd deadline. The tender comes with a salary of 110 percent of his previous compensation package.

As of the time of writing, it doesn’t appear as though any other team has interest in signing Golden for more than the $5.225 million that the Giants are currently offering. At least that’s the report from SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.

But for a Jets team desperately needing help on the edge, signing Golden at that salary seems like a no-brainer.

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The NY Jets could use Markus Golden to improve their subpar pass rush.

Golden originally entered the league as a second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2015 NFL Draft. After a respectable rookie season that saw him rack up four sacks in 15 games (six starts), Golden exploded on to the scene in his second NFL campaign.

The former Missouri star finished the 2016 season with a whopping 12.5 sacks in 16 games despite making just three starts. It seemed as though Golden was destined for stardom, but he would never reach the same heights again in Arizona.

Golden would miss most of the 2017 season with a torn ACL before returning as a starter in 2018. However, he would total just 2.5 sacks in 11 games after being moved to more of a traditional 4-3 defensive end role.

The role didn’t suit him and Golden didn’t appear to have the same explosiveness after his injury. But the 29-year-old managed a bit of a career resurgence after signing a cheap one-year deal with the Giants in the 2019 offseason.

Now back as a full-time starter at outside linebacker, Golden finished the year with a team-leading 10 sacks — the most since his breakout 2016 campaign. But despite his success, it doesn’t appear as though he’s garnered much interest on the open market.

Perhaps a deeper dive into his analytics reveals why.

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Golden did manage double-digit sacks last season, but his Pro Football Focus grade insists that he actually wasn’t an incredibly productive pass rusher. In fact, his 63.0 pass-rush grade is pretty average for the position, if not slightly below-average.

Combine that with his lackluster 60.3 overall grade and it seems as though Golden may have been the recipient of a few “lucky” sacks last season.

Nevertheless, Golden has shown a knack for getting after the passer in the past and he did look better than he has in years last season. Now two years recovered from his torn ACL, the arrow seems to be pointing up for the former Cardinals edge rusher.

The Jets are in desperate need of help on the edge with a current crop of outside linebackers including Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, Frankie Luvu, and Harvey Langi. Throw in undrafted rookie Bryce Huff and hybrid defensive ends/outside linebackers Jabari Zuniga and Kyle Phillips as well.

That’s a pretty unimpressive group and arguably the least accomplished edge rusher depth chart in the entire NFL. They could certainly benefit from adding someone with Golden’s talent and pedigree.

Once all of their rookies have been signed, the Jets will likely have somewhere between $10-15 million in remaining cap space. But they could always increase that number by cutting a player like Brian Winters or Avery Williamson and saving some money.

They have the resources to make it work if they wanted to. But it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a desire from the Jets or any other team for that matter.

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The lack of interest is surprising, but if the Jets were smart, they’d take advantage of that limited interest and steal Golden away from their crosstown rivals.