Markus Golden certainly wasn’t signed to take T.J. Watt’s job. That much is obvious. Golden was brought in to help give Watt the occasional breather while serving as an insurance policy should – knock on wood – Watt or Alex Highsmith suffer a long-term injury like the one that ailed Watt so early last season. Though Watt hasn’t dove head-first into Golden’s tape, big brother J.J. spent the last two years in Arizona as Golden’s teammate, giving Watt a little inside information on the type of player the Steelers are getting.
Speaking with reporters during last week’s OTAs, Watt was asked his opinion of the player.
“He played with J.J. for two years,” Watt said in audio provided by the team. “Had nothing but good things to say about him. So I’m excited to get to work with him.”
After being released by the Houston Texans, J.J. Watt signed with Arizona for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, uniting with Golden. Golden’s best year of the two came in 2021, racking up eleven sacks as a rotational pass rusher before settling down in 2022 with just 2.5, though he played more of an everydown role.
While Golden is 32 and his best football may be a bit behind him, he’s a key and quality #3 addition to the team. Similar to the team’s signing of Melvin Ingram, Golden is a squatty pass rusher with active hands and a hot motor to chase the ball in the run game.
After losing Watt in Week One last year, the Steelers’ pass rush tanked, highlighting the need to have better depth this season. Though Golden isn’t going to come close to Watt’s level of player, there will be less of a dropoff compared to a year ago when Malik Reed was added late and struggled to make an impact. Watt recognizes the need for Pittsburgh to have a strong EDGE room top to bottom.
“We’re always about having depth especially in the pass rush game. Anybody who has a lot of experience in the room is someone who I’m looking forward to learning from.”
A second round pick in 2015, Golden has appeared in 111 games, starting 68 of them, with 47 career sacks. His addition rounds out the room. Watt and Highsmith as starters, Golden the #3, with rookie Nick Herbig likely the #4. He’ll also battle former draft pick Quincy Roche and UDFA David Perales, who brings some intrigue from the undrafted pool.