The Giants won’t have Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora together to terrorize the quarterback. They won’t have the young Jason Pierre-Paul. They’ll never have another Lawrence Taylor.
But never have they needed to go back to the future to honor their feared-but-faded pass-rush tradition more than now, when they suddenly find themselves with such a hole at cornerback opposite James Bradberry that they scrambled to sign journeyman Ross Cockrell off the scrap heap.
They are lucky to have Junkyard Dog Markus Golden back.
Golden’s 10-sack season a year ago meant nothing when the pandemic helped suppress the market for pass rushers at a time when he was free to shop his services after the Giants won their gambit by placing the unrestricted free-agent tender on him.
It means plenty now.
New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will be entrusted with scheming a pass rush from a group that features Golden, Kyler Fackrell, Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines … and let’s see if he can prove GM Dave Gettleman right that the juice is worth the squeeze with Leonard Williams.
Golden — 12.5 sacks with the Cardinals in 2016 — is the only Giant with a pair of double-digit sack seasons on his résumé. Fackrell — 10.5 sacks in 2018 in Green Bay — has one.
They used to say Golden’s arms were too short and so he looks nothing like your prototypical pass rusher, more like a big middle linebacker from another era, but he knows how to overcome the odds. He carries a forever chip on his shoulder fueled by a torn ACL that jeopardized his career and he is a man among Big Blue boys, a man who understands that the business of football is everybody’s business, like it or not.
“I can’t sit back and complain and fuss about it, I gotta go out and get it no matter what,” Golden said. “That’s the mindset I’m gonna keep, that’s who I am, that’s who my parents raised me to be.”
Once he became exclusive property of the Giants on July 22, Golden ended up signing for $4.1 million, even less than Fackrell’s one-year, $4.6 million deal. His $1 million bonus for recording 10 sacks last season pushed his 2019 earnings to $4.75 million. Golden is 29, the oldest man on the Giants defense if you consider defensive back Nate Ebner a special-teamer. He’s an immensely prideful man who plays for his family and the people who always believed in him, for his native St. Louis, for the love of the game. There will be no hard feelings.
“You just never know, you gotta take it and go with it,” Golden said.
He thought he had proved it enough on his one-year prove-it deal to command a long-term deal averaging $10 million, and thought wrong.
“But I’m back now, and I’m back on different circumstances,” Golden said, “but I’m back, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.
“And at the end of the day, no matter what, I’m gonna be me, I’m gonna go out and compete, I’m gonna lay it on the line, ’cause 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. And I know what I gotta do to be able to play for my family, to be able to make my family proud and I know what I gotta do to be able to compete, to help my team.”
It was former Giants DC James Bettcher who coached Golden in Arizona and helped lure him to the Giants, and always called him Junkyard Dog. Or JYD. Or, as Cardinals HC Bruce Arians shortened it to, Junk.
“At the end of the day, it’s football, it’s football — you’re gonna pad up, you’re gonna put your helmet on, you’re gonna go out there and go to war, that’s what football is,” Golden said.
He isn’t looking to prove anything to anyone. Only to himself.
“If you don’t know I can do by now, then you’re not even worth proving nothing to,” Golden said, “so I’m focused on proving it to myself.”
Unlike last offseason, Golden is free of worries about his knee.
“I’m a guy who likes to work pass rush by myself,” he said. “That’s what really felt good, just being able to go to a lovely park and just have my cones and all my stuff I need, and be out there working pass rush by myself.”
Leonard Williams makes $16.1 million. He can buzz around the quarterback and stuff the run. I like him as a player more than most. But his next double-digit sack season will be his first double-digit sack season. Markus Golden is a bargain, and he couldn’t have come back at a better time.
Source: New York Post
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