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Steelers All 90: Markus Golden Embraces Essential Depth OLB Role



Steelers OLB Markus Golden
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Markus Golden at OTAs, May 31, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers have brought in multiple key defensive players this offseason to help bolster an already tough group. One of those additions is nine-year veteran Markus Golden who is likely to be the team’s top backup edge rusher. Golden has 47 career sacks and looks to bring some much-needed depth to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers knew how important a third above-average pass rusher is to a team and carefully picked Golden after a failed attempt in previous years with another veteran, namely Melvin Ingram and Malik Reed. Ingram grew frustrated over his backup role and Reed just never caught on in his time with the Steelers.

Golden understood his role before signing with the team and is not worried about his potential playing time.

“I know how football is. You can sit here and tell somebody anything. At the end of the day, I know how football is,” said Golden. “Anything can happen. What I’m going to do is go hard every day, come to work every day, learn from these guys. When the time comes, whether I play one play or if I play 30 plays, I’m going to go hard on all those plays.”

The team needed a level-headed character but one that could bring the aggression and another newly signed Steeler knew just the man. Patrick Peterson was consulted by Omar Khan before the team eventually signed Golden due to their long history of playing together in Arizona.

“I remember having him in the building right before signing, and Omar asked me, ‘Is he one of us? Is he one of the guys?” said Peterson on his podcast with Bryant McFadden. “I said, ‘He’s one of the guys and if you got any problems out of him, I got him.”

RELATED: How Markus Golden Received ‘Junkyard Dog’ Nickname

Golden comes to Pittsburgh with the mentality that Mike Tomlin looks for in his players, the willingness to do what they are told. Golden already stated that he is ready to do whatever is asked of him and is just ready to get to work. While his exact snap split is to be known later, he is likely to play a fair chunk of snaps as the team’s third pass rusher behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, I’m going to be ready to come in and hunt and do what the team needs me to do,” said Golden. “I’m all about winning at the end of the day.”

54 • Markus Golden, Outside Linebacker, Missouri
6-foot-3, 260 pounds, 32 years old, 9th Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Golden to a one-year, $1.09 million contract on May 24, 2023, after his contract with the Arizona Cardinals expired.

Last seasonGolden was a member of the Cardinals in 2022 and played in all 17 games for the team in his last season in the desert. Golden played both left and right outside linebacker for the Cardinals last season as he recorded 26 tackles, four sacks, and 46 total quarterback pressures.

In his age-31 season, Golden played his most defensive snaps since 2019.

Steelers OLB Markus Golden

Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden (44) while playing the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL Professional Football Game Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/John McCoy)

CareerThe Cardinals drafted Golden with the 58th overall selection in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Golden burst onto the scene as he appeared in 15 games and recorded 18 tackles, four sacks, and 51 pressures. Golden made his first career start against the Pittsburgh Steelers and recorded a season-high six tackles in the game.

Golden enjoyed his best year as a second-year player as he played in all 16 games for the Cardinals and recorded a career-high 12.5 sacks. He was tied for the third-best sack total in the league in 2016. He also tallied 35 tackles and 53 pressures.

In 2017, Golden started the first four games of the season as the weakside linebacker until he suffered a torn ACL in a game against the San Francisco 49ers. He failed to record a sack in the four games that he played but did tally 16 pressures in that span.

Golden returned in 2018 as he played in 11 games and finished with three sacks. He also recorded 24 tackles and 26 pressures. In his 11 appearances, he did not miss a tackle and finished the season with an 83.0 tackling grade from Pro Football Focus.

Steelers Markus Golden

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden (44) lines up during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 20-19. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Prior to the 2019 season, Golden signed a two-year contract with the New York Giants. In his first season as a member of the Giants, Golden played a career-high 916 defensive snaps and recorded 42 tackles, 10 sacks, and a career-high 64 quarterback pressures. His 10 sacks in 2019 were good enough to be the highest sack total by a Giants linebacker since 1990.

During his second season in New York, Golden was traded back to the Cardinals for a sixth-round pick. In total for both teams, Golden finished with 20 tackles and six sacks.

Golden played in 16 games for the Cardinals in 2021 and reached the double-digit sack mark for the third time in his career as he finished the season with 11 in total.

In his career, Golden has recorded 203 combined tackles, 47 sacks, and 355 quarterback pressures.

Year GP Tackles Sacks Pressures
2015 15 18 4 51
2016 16 35 12.5 53
2017 4 10 0 16
2018 11 24 2.5 26
2019 16 42 10 64
2020 16 20 4.5 55
2021 16 28 11 44
2022 17 26 2.5 46

CollegeAs a freshman in college, Golden attended Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas. In his lone season there, Golden put up video game numbers as he recorded 90 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and five forced fumbles. After the season, Golden transferred to the University of Missouri.

As a sophomore, Golden played limited snaps on defense and only recorded six tackles and a forced fumble.

In 2013, Golden shared snaps on the defense and tallied 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks with a forced fumble. He was arguably the team’s best defensive lineman even with future NFL players ahead of him.

In his last season in college, Golden tallied 10 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. He was part of a duo that went on to be the first Missouri defensive players to each record double-digit sacks in the same season.

Year Team Tackles TFLs Sacks FF
2011 Hutchinson CC 90 26 10 5
2012 Missouri 6 0 0 1
2013 Missouri 36 13 6.5 1
2014 Missouri 35 20 10 3

Salary cap and future: Golden is on a one-year contract with the Steelers and will cost $1,092,500 against the team’s cap space in 2023. His salary for this season is $1,165,000 with a $152,500 bonus. Golden will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2023 season.

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