Markus Golden will have to prove himself. Again.
The linebacker who led the Giants with 10.0 in sacks in 2019 when he played on a one-year deal has re-signed with the team on another one-year deal, this one reached in a slightly unorthodox manner. It’s the culmination of an odd offseason journey that saw him hit the market as a free agent in March then loosely attached to the Giants when they employed the seldom-used unrestricted free agent tender on him in April. When he did not sign with another team by the first day of training camp last week, the Giants regained exclusive rights to his services for the 2020 season.
The one-year tender he signed on Tuesday will pay him 110% of his 2019 salary, or $4.125 million. He’ll be eligible for free agency again after this season.
Golden, 29, reported to the team late last week and went through the pre-camp COVID-19 testing before having his physical and signing the contract.
“I have a lot of respect for him as a player,” head coach Joe Judge said in May, shortly after the Giants used the tender on him. “He’s a great person, he’s a hard worker. He’s a productive player so we have a lot of respect for him.”
His return nearly doubles the number of career sacks that Giants outside linebackers head into the 2020 season with. Golden has 29.0 in his six NFL seasons; Lorenzo Carter, Ohane Ximines and free-agent acquisition Kyler Fackrell have a combined 29.5.
If Golden leads the Giants in sacks in 2020, he will be the first Giant to do so in consecutive seasons since Jason Pierre-Paul in 2011 and 2012.
Many figured the comeback season in 2019, two years after Golden suffered a torn ACL that derailed his tenure with the Cardinals, would lead to a big payday in free agency. The market for pass rushers never quite materialized, however, and the Giants saw value in using the tender. The Giants would not have received any compensation had he signed elsewhere, but they essentially locked in at the $4.125 million price tag and set that as the bar for other teams to meet. None did.
So now he is back. With plenty more to prove.
Tauaefa to COVID list. Second-year linebacker Josiah Tauaefa became the second Giants player to land on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list for either a positive test or having come in close contact with someone who had tested positive. The first player with that designation, WR David Sills, was removed from the list and returned to the team on Tuesday.