With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we have turned our attention to the offseason. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: OLB Markus Golden
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers announced the signing of veteran outside linebacker Markus Golden earlier this week. While it was revealed to be a one-year contract, the full terms have not yet been disclosed. It is predicted to be in the range of $2-4 million, perhaps even a bit less, in order to serve as veteran depth behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
The Steelers made it clear that they were interested in adding a veteran pass rusher before the draft when they brought in their former starter, Bud Dupree, for a visit. He left without signing a contract, though he quickly landed in Atlanta, but the visit showed where their thought process was.
While the Steelers did draft a potential outside linebacker in Nick Herbig, a linebacker with inside-outside flexibility, the Golden signing obviously proves that they were not content to ride into the season with what they already had.
And they certainly shouldn’t have been. Herbig and Quincy Roche locked in as your backups is not good planning. Golden is not coming off of his best season in terms of sack production, but he was still able to generate pressure and is a complete player with the ability to hold up against the run.
A 2015 second-round draft pick, Golden has 68 starts in 111 career games, including 14 starts last season for the Arizona Cardinals. He signed a one-year extension through 2023 just prior to the start of last season, but after a year of low sack production, he was allowed to walk. He had 11 sacks in 2021, but outside of that one year, he hasn’t hit even five since 2019.
Having turned 32 in March, Golden would have been an unconventional signing under Kevin Colbert as general manager, as he almost never signed any outside free agents 30 or older, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Golden marks the second this offseason for Omar Khan, however, in addition to Patrick Peterson.
Pittsburgh has been reminded in the past two years about how important quality depth is at outside linebacker. Its total defensive effectiveness has sagged significantly during that time whenever T.J. Watt and/or Alex Highsmith were not available due to injury.
Golden is just a part of the process of helping to improve the Steelers’ ability to withstand injury, an effort that also includes defensive line additions such as DeMarvin Leal and Keeanu Benton over the course of the past two drafts.