EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Markus Golden's offseason travels led him back to the port from which he sailed.
The sixth-year outside linebacker led the Giants with 10.0 sacks last season, his first with the team. He then embarked on a free agency journey he hoped would lead to a long-term contract. That never materialized, so last week Golden rejoined the Giants on another one-year deal.
"I feel good about being back," Golden said on a Zoom call today. "It's a good place. It's a good place to be able to come back and be able to compete and be able to play ball. At the end of the day, I love playing ball and that's what I'm about. I love playing ball, I love competing. This is the situation I'm in right now. I can't sit back and complain and fuss about it. I have to go out and get it no matter what. That's the mindset that I'm going to keep. That's just who I am. That's how my parents raised me to be. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep my mindset and if I get the opportunity to do what I need to do, I'm going to be ready to compete no matter what."
Golden said "of course" when asked if he had discussions with the Giants about a longer contract.
"You've seen what I've done for the Giants," he said. "Of course, you want a player to come back and be able to help your team and be able to get out there and help your team because I showed what I can do. But it didn't work out like that. It didn't work out like that, but I'm back now and I'm back on different circumstances. But I'm back and that's what it's about at the end of the day. At the end of the day, no matter what, I'm going to be me. I'm going to go out and compete. I'm going to lay it on the line because at the end of the day, I play the game for a different reason. I play the game for my family. I play the game to win. I know what I need to do to be able to play for my family, be able to make my family proud. I know what I need to do to be able to win and help my team."
Following the NFL Draft, the Giants placed a seldom-used unrestricted free agent tender on Golden. When he did not sign with another team by the first day of training camp, the Giants regained exclusive rights to his services for the 2020 season.
Golden said he had never heard of what is commonly called the May 5 tender and was surprised when the Giants invoked it. But he harbors no hard feelings.
"Business is business," he said. "I know how this stuff goes. I've been having that mindset since my rookie year. Really since college. I have a business mindset. You have to have that mindset because that's exactly what it is. Yeah, it's football, a game we've been playing since we were kids. But when you get on this level and the college level, you start to realize that it's a business. That's the mindset I keep just so I'm ready for when different stuff like that happens.
"You put in a lot of work during the season. This is a game where they say if you put the work in, the hard work pays off, the game will pay you back in different ways. Of course, it was frustrating. But then again, after a while, you go back to that 'business is business' mindset, as it is. That's the mindset you need to have in this business. Like I said, it was a little frustrating, but you just need to work hard and use everything as motivation."
Golden, 29, will lead a group of pass rushers that includes third-year veteran Lorenzo Carter, second-year pro Oshane Ximines and free agent acquisition Kyler Fackrell.
"They're working hard," Golden said when asked about Carter and Ximines, his teammates from a year ago. "Zo and X work hard, that's all those guys do. Since they were young last year they have always been working hard. You have to respect those guys and the work they put in. Me, myself, I expect big things from them I know they are working hard. They expect things from themselves, but at the end of the day it's another year in the league and you can always come back better."
Golden had a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2016 as an NFL sophomore with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him on the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. But in the fourth game of the 2017 season, Golden tore his ACL, an injury that still limited him during his 2.5-sack performance the following year. He regained his stride last season with the Giants but didn't bite when asked if his play can reach a higher level.
"I don't really think about that," Golden said. "I know one thing I'm going to do and that's come out and compete. I'm going to come out and compete. This offseason I worked really hard to get better. I'm working hard in these workouts to get better and that's what I am going to do every day. At the end of the day it's football. You are going to pad, you are going to put your helmet on, go out there and go to war, that's what football is. I look forward to getting out there and competing, that's what I do. I look forward to getting out there and competing."
It was a formula that was successful for him last year and earned him another chance to excel with the Giants in 2020.
View exclusive photos of the New York Giants from their 2020 Media Day.