Pittsburgh Steelers sign veteran EDGE Markus Golden

Steelers, Markus Golden
Steelers, Markus Golden / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

For months, we've all been wondering what plans the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to deploy when it came to their backup edge defenders. Malik Reed, their primary backup last season, struggled with the team in 2022 and signed with the Dolphins as a free agent during the 2023 offseason. This left a team that was already thin at the outside linebacker position even thinner.

After rumors that the team could pursue Kyle Van Noy, the Steelers recently had a visit with veteran Markus Golden. Now ESPN's Adam Schefter confirms that he has officially signed with Pittsburgh.

The 32-year-old pass rusher has inked a one-year deal with the Steelers. Golden spent the vast majority of his career with the Arizona Cardinals and has recorded three seasons of 10 or more sacks. So what is the plan for him in Pittsburgh in 2023?

Markus Golden will play in an EDGE rotation for Steelers

Markus Golden's role on the team for the upcoming 2023 is relatively easy to predict: the veteran will serve in a rotational role as the primary outside linebacker off the bench.

While Golden played a whopping 70 percent of the total defensive snaps for the Cardinals last year in 17 games (14 starts) that number will go way down in 2023 -- assuming T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith stay healthy.

This isn't going to be like the situation the Steelers got themselves in during the 2021 season when Melvin Ingram was unhappy with his small role compared to Highsmith. Golden knows his place at this point in his career. The 32-year-old will no doubt be an upgrade over an unspectacular Malik Reed last year, but it's important to temper expectations.

Despite significant usage with the Cardinals last season, Golden recorded just 2.5 sacks on 781 defensive snaps. Likewise, he didn't grade out particularly well last year either. There's no reason to expect him to play the best football at this stage in his career.

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At the very least, the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a capable rotational edge defender who offers at least some insurance in the event of an injury to Watt or Highsmith. There were several other strong candidates available, but the front office likely viewed Markus Golden as a great scheme fit. Consider him a solid, yet unspectacular signing.