Golden is Cardinals’ most underappreciated, says’s Frelund

May 27, 2022, 8:07 AM
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against...
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at State Farm Stadium on October 28, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Markus Golden was one of 15 players in the NFL last season with double-digit sacks. His 11 led the Cardinals, as he went on a tear between Weeks 6-9 with seven sacks and two forced fumbles in four games.

NFL Network analyst Cynthia Frelund devised a list of every team’s most underappreciated player and named Golden the choice for Arizona.

With Chandler Jones signing in Las Vegas this offseason, Golden will be asked to play an even bigger role than he did last season, when he led Arizona in sacks (12) and hurries (25). Golden’s pressure rate dipped from 17.8 in 2020 to 11.5 in 2021, but that was partly related to how often the Cardinals blitzed — and how often they stuck to blitzing even when it wasn’t working. Arizona blitzed at the third-highest rate last season (35.1) but allowed the most TDs in the NFL when blitzing (18).

Frelund used win shares and each player’s salary by position as factors to make the list.

Golden signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals as an unrestricted free agent in 2021, including $1.5 million in signing bonus money, according to Spotrac.

His average annual salary of $2.5 million ranks No. 81 at his position.

“Junk” was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round in 2015.

Golden walked in free agency in 2019, but Arizona reacquired him during the 2020 season after Jones suffered a season-ending injury.

The 31-year-old instantly provided a spark on the edge, generating an NFL-high 16.8% pressure rate for the full year, according to NextGen Stats.

He expressed several times to the media how fortunate he felt to be back with the team that drafted him.

Golden then signed what became a very team-friendly contract.

With Jones out the door and Arizona electing to not bring in another veteran pass rusher, Golden will have the onus of being the team’s most accomplished pass rusher.

The Cardinals brought in rookies Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders and Jesse Luketa as reinforcements, so defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will have a lot of options to divvy looks.

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