EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – One of the Giants' persistent questions throughout the offseason was who would provide them with a consistent pass rush. With the team in the early stages of training camp, a likely answer has emerged, and it's the same player who did last year.
Outside linebacker Markus Golden – whose 10.0 sacks in 2019 were more than twice the total of any other Giants defender – today re-signed with the team. Golden, who is entering his sixth NFL season, rejoins a group of outside backers that includes three-year veteran Lorenzo Carter and second-year pro Oshane Ximines – who tied for second on the team with 4.5 sacks last season – free agent acquisition Kyler Fackrell, who had 10.5 sacks for Green Bay in 2018, and 2020 draft choices Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin. Golden has 29.0 career sacks. Carter, Ximines and Fackrell have a combined 29.5 sacks.
Golden, 29, had been an unrestricted free agent. Soon after the NFL Draft in late April, theGiants 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.
The reunion should be fortuitous for both the team and the player.
In his first season with the Giants in 2019, Golden was one of six players – including four on defense - to start all 16 games. He was one of 18 NFL players with at least 10.0 sacks. Golden was the first Giants player with a double-digit sack total since Jason Pierre-Paul had 12.5 in 2014 and the first Giants linebacker to accomplish the feat since Lawrence Taylor had 10.5 in 1990. Golden finished fifth with 72 tackles (37 solo). He had a season-high eight tackles (five solo) vs. Green Bay on Dec. 1.
Golden had at least a half-sack in five consecutive games from Sept. 15-Oct. 10 – including a season-best 2.0 sacks at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22 – to become the first Giants player with a streak that long since Olivier Vernon from Nov. 6 - Dec. 4, 2016.
Should Golden lead the team in sacks this year, he will be the first Giants player to do so in consecutive seasons since Pierre-Paul in 2011-12.
Golden scored his first career touchdown on Oct. 10 at New England when he scooped up a Tom Brady fumble that was forced by Carter and returned it 42 yards. Golden's touchdown was the first by a Giants player on a fumble return since Jan. 1, 2017, when cornerback Trevin Wade scored on an 11-yard return on the game's last play at Washington. The 42-yard fumble return was the longest by a Giants player since Vernon's 43-yarder vs. Washington on Oct. 28, 2018, and the longest for a touchdown since Pierre-Paul's 43-yarder at Cleveland on Nov. 27, 2016.
Golden joined the Giants as a free agent on March 15, 2019, after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
View photos of outside linebacker Markus Golden.
In Arizona, Golden played in 46 regular-season games with 24 starts, and he started both postseason games in which he has played. His best season was 2016, when he played in all 16 games with three starts and tied for third in the NFL with a career-high and team-leading 12.5 sacks. Golden led the team with 19 tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with four forced fumbles.
The following season, he started the first four games and collected 12 tackles (11 solo), including one for a loss, before suffering a season-ending torn ACL vs. San Francisco on Oct. 1. Golden returned in 2018 to record 2.5 sacks while starting all 11 games in which he played.
Golden, a former standout at Missouri, joined the Cardinals as a second-round draft choice in 2015.
*The Giants removed one player but added another to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Wide receiver David Sills, who was added to the list a week ago today, returned to the team. Second-year linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was placed on the list.
As a rookie in 2019, Tauaefa played 12 games as a reserve linebacker and on special teams. He totaled three solo tackles, including two for a loss, all in his NFL debut vs. Minnesota on Oct. 6. Tauaefa added three tackles and one forced fumble on special teams.