Meant-to-be Cardinals LB Markus Golden enjoying productive 2021

Oct 25, 2021, 10:35 AM | Updated: 11:29 am
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a sack in the third quarter against the Cleve...
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a sack in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

There aren’t many players that proclaim their love for an NFL team quite like Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden.

He has gone on record saying he was meant to be a Cardinal, especially after experiencing a season and a half away from the desert as a member of the New York Giants. Drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Golden spent four seasons in Arizona before joining New York through free agency in 2019.

Shortly after Golden was traded, he even explained to reporters that Arizona had never stopped being his home team despite not being on the roster. The roots he planted during his initial days with the organization were dug in.

Following Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans, he echoed just how much he loves the organization. Ironically, the 31-5 beatdown came on the one-year anniversary of Arizona trading for the linebacker.

“I’m glad to be back, man. I’m glad to be back,” Golden said after the game Sunday. “I’m supposed to be an Arizona Cardinal and I’m glad to be back here where I’m supposed to be.”

And with how Golden has performed since returning to the team in 2020, the feeling is mutual, especially on a team-friendly two-year, $5 million deal.

In 16 games, Golden has recorded nine sacks, an interception, 42 tackles, 22 QB hits, three pass deflections and five forced fumbles.

His most recent stretch has been some of his best football to date. Through just seven games in 2021, Golden has picked up 19 tackles, eight QB hits, six sacks (leads team) and four forced fumbles (leads NFL). No other player in the NFL this season has amassed six sacks and four forced fumbles.

In Sunday’s win, the linebacker posted the highest Pro Football Grade among the defense with an 88.5.

His play and the added “juice” he brings on a daily basis has helped lead Arizona to the top of the ranks in numerous defensive categories, including fewest points allowed per game with 16.3 and the most forced fumbles with 11.

Golden has had two sacks and at least two QB hits in each of the past two outings. He now has five two-sack games as a member of the Cardinals.

Golden came back to Arizona in 2020 as a key replacement for fellow linebacker Chandler Jones, who was lost for the season five games in with a biceps injury. With Golden leading the charge, he tallied three sacks, 14 QB hits, an interception and a forced fumble over nine games. Despite the smaller sample size and Haason Reddick’s 12.5-sack mark, Golden led the team with a pressure rate of 16.8%, per NextGenStats.

He’s risen to the occasion once again with Jones missing the past two games after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Cleveland Browns game. Jones has the upper hand in QB hits (14), but trails Golden in sacks (5) and forced fumbles (2).

Golden has easily made up for the sixth-round pick the team shipped over to re-acquire his services in 2020.

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Meant-to-be Cardinals LB Markus Golden enjoying productive 2021