Is Markus Golden the right choice as the backup EDGE for the Steelers?

Steelers, Markus Golden
Steelers, Markus Golden / Michael Owens/GettyImages

Since the start of the offseason, we knew that the Pittsburgh Steelers had a severe lack of depth at edge defender. When T.J. Watt went down with a pectoral injury during the 2022 season, Malik Reed was a complete non-factor, and the pass-rush greatly struggled as a result.

This is a team that has had a hard time finding depth at the outside linebacker position over the past several years. When they finally had someone who was playing well in Melvin Ingram, his limited usage forced the Steelers to trade him before the deadline.

Now Pittsburgh seems to be back at square one. Though they select Wisconsin's Nick Herbig in the fourth round, the Steelers can't expect the rookie to step into a rotational role from day one, and it's possible that the team finds out that he can't hold up on the edge at his size.

On May 23rd, Jordan Schultz of The Score reported that veteran pass rusher Markus Golden is visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Golden is a former second-round pick from the 2015 draft class who has had a very productive NFL career. This includes three seasons of at least 10 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. But is he the right choice to back up T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith in Pittsburgh?

Markus Golden is an unspectacular scheme fit for Steelers

Anytime you wait this late into the pre-draft process to address the position, you have to figure that the talent is mostly going to be picked through. Even when free agency first kicked off, there weren't many notable edge defenders worth pursuing, and most of the quality players on the market were already in their 30s.

That's also the case with Markus Golden, who turned 32 years old this offseason. Despite Golden's past production, he isn't coming off a particularly good season with the Cardinals. In 2022, the veteran pass rusher managed just 2.5 sacks despite playing in all 17 games and recording a substantial 781 defensive snaps.

Even more concerning is that a whopping 514 snaps came on passing downs. Yet the lack of pass-rush production was astonishing. When you combine the fact that he took a step back in his 8th NFL season with the fact that he wasn't a great athlete, to begin with, this is a player who may not have much left to offer.

Regardless of his backslide and at the late stage of his NFL career, Golden is a scheme fit for what the Steelers look for. Mike Tomlin doesn't care about size and length on the edge. He has a certain type of player he looks for, and as long as you are tough and versatile, you will fit the bill.

Golden has been a 3-4 outside linebacker for nearly his entire career -- most of which came in Arizona. These labels don't mean as much as they did in the past, but Tomlin still values strong scheme fits for his defense.

Think of Markus Golden as a better versions of Malik Reed -- not big,long, or explosive, but a savvy veteran with plenty of experience. There are certainly better options out there, but Golden could be an solid yet unspectacular scheme fit if the price is right.