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Ravens, Saints Could Pursue $22 Million Free Agent

After thriving in a limited role with the Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-year veteran Markus Golden could sign with these two teams as a free agent
Markus Golden Free Agent

Nine-year veteran edge defender Markus Golden might not be the biggest name on the free agent market, but the former second-round pick could find a new NFL home in the coming weeks. Now entering his age-33 season, Golden spent the 2023 campaign in a depth role for the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to Pro Football Focus, he played in just 209 snaps but made the most of his limited opportunities. He finished the year with four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and an impressive 86.5 PFF grade that would’ve ranked 16th in the league if he had enough snaps to qualify.

Golden’s PFF grade is impressive, but part of that high ranking comes from his limited usage. Pittsburgh utilized him situationally, which allowed him to only play to his strengths. Markus Golden could not maintain such a high level of play if given a full-time starting job, but the free agent can be effective in a limited role. Just about every team could use another player capable of getting after the quarterback on third down, but the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints make the most sense as potential destinations.

Ravens, Saints Could Pursue Free Agent Markus Golden

The cap-strapped Baltimore Ravens lost several key players in free agent, with former first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney being one of the biggest losses of them all. While he’s no spring chicken, the former Texan re-established himself as one of the league’s more efficient pass rushers during his lone season in Baltimore. This impressive season earned him a sizable tw0-year contract from the Carolina Panthers, and Baltimore could sign Markus Golden as a cost-effective free agent replacement.

Golden can’t singlehandedly replicate Clowney’s production, but he won’t have to. Former first-round pick Odafe Oweh is set to earn the full-time starting job, and early camp reports suggest he’ll be ready for the challenge. The Ravens won’t need another starter, they just need additional depth to bolster their elite pass rush. Markus Golden thrived in a similar role last year, and the free agent could help ensure this defense remains one of the best in the league.

Uncertainty In New Orleans

In what’s become something of an annual tradition, New Orleans restructured several deals to put off a rebuild. While this strategy ensures they won’t finish with a top-five pick, it also means they’ll never have enough spending money to go after the best of the best on the open market. On paper, the Saints have two reliable edge rushers in Chase Young and Cameron Jordan. However, both players come with significant risk and New Orleans could use a veteran free agent like Markus Golden to provide some stability to this room.

Jordan is coming off what is easily the worst season since his rookie year. Starting all 17 games, the former first-round pick finished the 2023 season with just two sacks and six quarterback hits. Was this lack of production all due to his injury, or is age starting to catch up with the 13-year veteran? Young, meanwhile, has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and is coming off an injury of his own. While this room has plenty of potential, it also has a horrificly low floor. Markus Golden can add some stability to this room and, in a perfect world, the free agent could be the perfect third edge rusher on passing downs.

Main Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie – USA Today Sports


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