Markus Golden knew free agency would mean uncertainty. He’d gone through the process in 2019 and came out of it without the results he wanted, lacking a long-term contract and signing a one-year deal with the Giants. In 2020, he was ready for anything.
Well, almost anything.
The rule that brought him back to the Giants on a second straight one-year contract? He'd never heard of.
Few had. The Giant used the rare May 5 unrestricted free agent tender on Golden, essentially tying themselves to him at a set price — 110% of his 2019 salary, or $4.125 million — if he did not sign or receive a better offer elsewhere. The tender also might have scared away other teams from making such an offer because any team that signed Golden would have had him count toward their compensatory draft pick formula for 2021. When he didn’t have a deal by the start of training camp, the Giants held his rights for 2020. Golden had to sign the tender if he wanted to play this season.
“This is a game that they say if you put the work in, hard work is going to pay off and the game is going to pay you back in different ways,” Golden said.
He led the Giants with 10 sacks in 2019 and thought that payday was forthcoming. Instead, he got a small raise, a return to New York, and another season to try to prove to the NFL that he is worthy of a long-term contract as an edge rusher.
“Of course it was frustrating,” Golden added. “But you just have to work harder and use everything as motivation.”
That’s what he intends to do.
“This is the situation I’m in right now,” he said. “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 he is happy to be back with the Giants. “It’s a good place to be able to come back and be able to compete and be able to play ball,” he said. And he said he has no ill will toward the team for using that obscure tool to limit his free-agent options. “Business is business,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean the events of this offseason don’t sting. Nor, he said, will they be forgotten.
“I’ve been through free agency before and it didn’t go my way,” Golden said. “I really was open to whatever was going to happen . . . You just go with the flow. This is how it ended up, so this is what I have to roll with.”