As we’ve done in previous offseasons, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2018 offseason. We’ll focus this on the players who weren’t on the team’s practice squad last year, the mostly unknown players fans are unfamiliar with.
Today, we’ll begin with a semi-familiar one. Safety Malik Golden.
Malik Golden/S Penn State – 6’0/2 201
I say semi-familiar because Golden spent all of training camp with the team last year. He was the last one onto the boat before the team showed up to Latrobe, signed after Daimion Stafford decided to call it quits.
Golden was brought in partially for his athletic profile. At Penn State’s Pro Day, he ran a 4.5 40, jumped 35 inches in the vert, 10’5″ in the broad, and repped 225 pounds 16 times. For a UDFA, really good numbers. He went undrafted after a limited college career. He made only 17 career starts, swithcing over to safety from wide receiver after his redshirt year in 2012, and was the full-time guy for just his senior season. There wasn’t much splash but plenty of tackles, 75 of them in all, good enough for fourth on the team.
Pittsburgh was not his first stop. The San Francisco 49ers scooped him up after the draft. They clearly had plenty of interest in him, reportedly offering him $25,000 in guaranteed money, a hefty sum for a UDFA.
— Andrew Callahan (@ACallahan_247) July 28, 2017
But the 49ers cut him in June and there he stayed until the Steelers came calling. By the end of camp, here is what I wrote about Golden, who cut his teeth for third team reps throughout.
“Golden was quickly ushered in to replaced the retired Daimion Stafford. Golden tested as a plus athlete out of Penn State and it showed during camp. Definitely a better athlete than Webb with better ball skills. He’s also arguably just as good a tackler with much more range, vertically and sideline to sideline. If it wasn’t for Hagen, Golden might have had a shot at the practice squad.”
A competitive preseason ended on a down note. In the finale versus the Carolina Panthers, he suffered a second half groin injury after picking off a Joe Webb pass. Bittersweet, to say the least.
He was waived/injured at final cutdowns. Meaning, he was waived, cleared, and sent to IR. After rehabbing, the team cut him loose from IR two weeks later. No one picked him up the rest of the year.
There is one interesting interview with Golden. Posted on December 26th from the PM Reviews podcast, Golden shared a couple of stories about his time with the team.
His injury was a torn tendon in his groin that occurred not on the interception where he crumpled to the ground but on a first half tackle. Here’s the clip of it – you can see Golden stay on the ground after the fact, immediately knowing he was hurt.
But he stayed in the game, knowing how important it was for a guy in his position, but when he tried to run on the interception, his legs finally gave out. So ended his first season in the NFL.
What Golden has going for is above average athleticism, a solid first camp, and some weak depth at safety. That is almost certainly to be addressed in the offseason but still, it’s possible Golden will have a chance to snag one of the final roster spots heading into camp if he can repeat what he did in 2017. He’ll be a competent player to round out the group, at the very least, and should be strongly in the mix for a practice squad spot.