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Free Agent Spotlight: DE Markus Golden

Another former Cardinal could help the Bucs transition to their new schemes and coaches

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was in his first season as the New York Jets’ head coach when Markus Golden was drafted to the Arizona Cardinals.

Now, five seasons later the two who have success under Bruce Arians in common may get the chance to rekindle that success together.

Markus Golden’s Career

Golden was drafted in the same class as Jameis Winston, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, and Kwon Alexander among others.

As a second-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals, Golden was called was praised for his work ethic as one of his strengths by Mike Mayock coming out of Missouri.

Playing in Arizona’s 3-4 base defense for his first three years, Golden totaled 31 tackles and four sacks in his rookie season. Then, in his second year, he jumped up to 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks.

He was on a similar tackle pace when he suffered a torn ACL costing him 12 games in 2017 and played in eleven under the Cardinals’ 4-3 re-birth experiment in 2018.

Now, there’s potential he’ll be looking for a new start, and where better than with people he found his old success and growth with?

But do the Bucs need him?

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

Of course they do! Bottom line, Tampa Bay needs a pass rush. They have a pass rusher in Jason Pierre-Paul, but outside of JPP, there just isn’t anyone you can point to and say they bring pass rushing heat off the edge on every single play.

Nobody knows right now if Golden can ever get back on the track he was on when he tore his ACL. Coming back from the injury into a system he had no familiarity with certainly didn’t help the comeback last season.

If he comes to Tampa Bay it’ll be on a team friendly deal which helps with Jason Licht’s current cap situation, and despite the fact he’s never played for Todd Bowles, the scheme will be familiar.

How Much Will Golden Cost?

The easy answer? Not much.

If a team was paying for confidence, he’d cost a lot. At the end of last season, he told,

“I can play football and I can make plays. I’m a big-time player.”

With defensive ends on the market like Ezekiel Ansah, Dante Fowler Jr. and others, Golden is going to find the market is not in favor of the players, but the teams.

Even with a premium likely paid for pass rush, he’s going to land in the tier which doesn’t get to cash in as much on this fact.

He’ll have suitors though. It’s really a matter of whether or not he wants to wait and see if his offers get better following the NFL Draft, or if he accepts his value and wants to get to work sooner rather than later.

Will It Happen?

It most certainly could. Again, this is a young man who had his best years in some of Bruce Arians’ best years in Arizona. Whenever a new coach comes in, he’s going to have his eye on guys who have experience winning with him as they represent not only a player, but as guaranteed buy-in who can help secure locker room support early.

If Mayock was right, and Golden’s work ethic is truly one of his strengths, then I have no doubt Arians and Bowles would be interested in bringing him on as they look for pieces to maneuver within their defense.

The low price tag he should garner will only help this.