In an NFL world shrouded in secrecy, Markus Golden is easier to read than a children's book.
The veteran outside linebacker was loud and clear about his preference to re-sign with the Cardinals in free agency, and got his wish by officially inking a two-year contract on Wednesday.
Golden's personality is full of passion, which is evident after a five minute conversation with him or five minutes of watching him play. That zeal was taken away last year, when Golden returned to the Giants on a rarely-used unrestricted free agent tender and then saw little playing time despite garnering 10 sacks for the team in 2019.
"I did everything I could to prove that I was the guy, and they didn't give me the opportunity," Golden said. "That took my love away from the game a little bit. I'm not going to lie. It rubbed me the wrong way because that's what the game has always been about. If you work hard and do what you're supposed to do on the field, you're going to be out there. So I felt a little disrespected by New York."
The Cardinals, who selected Golden in the second round of the 2015 draft, traded for him in October, and there was a perma-smile attached to Golden's face the rest of the year.
"It was like, 'Who else is going to come save me, get me out of a situation like this?' The Cardinals," Golden said. "It was a blessing, because nobody else would have saved me from that. There were times out there when I thought, 'Man, after this year I'm going to retire and hang it up.' Because I play the game to compete, and I felt like I wasn't allowed to do that out there. And once I'm not allowed to do that, it kind of made me not want to play. Being able to come back here and play for the Cardinals, it got me back going, got me back motivated, got me back to my old self."
In free agency, money is almost always the main motivation for signing with a team. But for Golden and right tackle Kelvin Beachum, it may not have been the top priority.
Golden's contract was reportedly for two years at $2.5 million per season plus incentives, a value deal for a player who has shown the consistent ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
"I had other teams reaching out to me, but once I got the offer from the Cardinals, I wanted to make it work," Golden said. "I knew where I wanted to be."
Beachum signed a two-year contract for a reported $2 million per year. He started all 16 games at right tackle last season and is projected to again be the starter in 2021. Beachum enjoyed his first year in Arizona, and with three young kids, preferred not to uproot them unnecessarily.
He said the presence of offensive line coach Sean Kugler is originally why he joined the Cardinals, and the main reason why he reupped.
"Sean Kugler is a guy that stood on the table to draft me in 2012 (with the Steelers)," Beachum said. "We've had a great rapport and a great relationship over the years. I probably wouldn't play right tackle for another coach."
The Cardinals have made splash signings and trades in this free agent period, but the presence of dependable veterans at a low cost are also crucial. Golden and Beachum fit that bill, and it's clear they are happy to be a part of the team moving forward.
"I don't want to play anywhere else," Golden said. "I want to come here and help the Cardinals win. I know I can help a team win, and I can play at a high level. I'd rather it be here and help my team, the Arizona Cardinals, win a championship."
Images of OLB Markus Golden and T Kelvin Beachum signing their contract extensions with the Cardinals.