Markus Golden believes in himself wholeheartedly. We'll know soon if NFL evaluators feel the same.
The Cardinals' defensive end started his career with a bang, compiling a team-best 12½ sacks and four forced fumbles in 2016. But Golden tore his ACL last season and never returned to form this year, finishing with 2½ sacks in 11 games.
Golden is scheduled to be a free agent in March. Dominant edge-rushers get paid handsomely on the open market, and Golden believes he deserves to be lumped into that group when healthy.
"I know who I am and I know what I can do," Golden said. "I can play football and I can make plays. I'm a big-time player. I can help teams win big games, like I've been doing since I've been here. I'm going to get back to myself. I've just got to grind it out and get healthy."
While some players give lip service about a return to their current team, Golden truly hopes to stick with the Cardinals.
"The Cardinals brought me here," Golden said. "They didn't have to draft me. They didn't have to do everything they did for me and my family to change my life and be able to play in the NFL. I'd love to stay here and be an Arizona Cardinal for the rest of my career, because this is the team that believed in me and gave me a chance to play in the NFL. That's all I ever wanted my whole life."
IUPATI HOPES TO KEEP PLAYING
Veteran guard Mike Iupati has always had a goal of playing 10 seasons in the NFL. The impending free agent would get there if he has a team in 2019.
The Cardinals signed the former Pro Bowler to a big free agent deal in 2015 but injuries marred his tenure. Iupati played in 39 of a possible 64 games the past four seasons, making the Pro Bowl in his first year with the team.
Iupati, 31, said he would like to return to the team but acknowledged the future is murky.
"If it's time for me to retire, I'll retire, but I'd love to play one or two more years," he said.
OFFENSIVE LINE IMPROVEMENT A HIGH PRIORITY
Quarterback Josh Rosen did not play well as a rookie but he did not get much help from the offensive line. General Manager Steve Keim confirmed the team will look to upgrade the position this offseason.
"There's not doubt that that's going to be a critical point moving forward," Keim said. "Not only making sure that we keep guys healthy, but playing in unison. We saw too many times this year that guys, whether it was combination blocks, whether it was handling games and stunts, they weren't on the same page. Again, that's not good enough. It's certainly an area where we're going to have to look into deeply this offseason, whether it's through free agency, the draft, both."