Experienced fans should know by now that changes are inevitable when an NFL team brings in a new GM and new coaching staff. Players that once were considered untouchable may no longer have a place on the roster. GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus haven’t offered any hints at what they could be planning in this regard. Likely because they aren’t finished evaluating the roster. One possibility that seems to be growing is Eddie Goldman finding his way out of town.
People were thrilled when the big nose tackle returned last season after his one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. They expected he would instantly shore up the Bears’ leaky run defense as he’d done so well from 2017 to 2019. One can imagine their disappointment when his presence had almost no effect at all. In fact, things got worse. Chicago was 15th in run defense in 2020 without Goldman. They were 23rd last year with him. If he can’t impact the one area of a game his position was meant for, his value to the team comes into question. Now combine that with a scheme change under Eberflus, creating speculation on Goldman’s future.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune fueled this in his latest column.
“There’s a good chance they release nose tackle Eddie Goldman. I find it hard to believe they would pay him $8.86 million this season with Goldman having an $11.8 million cap number. Those numbers simply don’t match what he put on film last season. Is there a scenario in which Goldman would agree to play for less this season? I suppose that’s possible, but I’d only be guessing if that’s a consideration for either party.”
There are several reasons why Goldman may not return. It starts with the money, as Biggs said. The Bears would gain an extra $6 million in cap space by releasing him. That would give the team around $34 million in total space. There is enough to do some desperately-needed retooling of the roster at more vital positions like the offensive line, wide receiver, and cornerback. Then there is the matter of scheme fit.
Eberflus doesn’t mind adjusting his system to the players he has. He did this quite well during his first year with the Indianapolis Colts. If necessary, he can probably find a way to use Goldman. It is just that the 28-year old has never played in a 4-3 defense his entire career. He was drafted to be a 3-4 nose tackle. There were questions about his ability to shoot gaps and get up the field even coming out of college. Something that is required in this system.
Eddie Goldman is not a necessity anymore
That is the vital fact in this entire discussion. When the Bears played the Vic Fangio-style of defense, his presence in the middle was essential. Finding nose tackles of that caliber is difficult. Such is no longer the case. A 4-3 nose tackle is far easier to find. The bigger challenge will be landing a three-technique interior pass rusher. Right now, there isn’t one on the roster for the Bears.
Sacrificing Eddie Goldman for the team’s greater good feels like a wise approach. Maybe they can trade him to somebody that needs his kind of presence. The Los Angeles Chargers come to mind. Barring that, an outright release is still preferable. Goldman had a good run. He was a rock-solid player during his first five seasons with the team. He just hasn’t been the same since his long layoff during the pandemic.
Some have questioned his commitment to football.
There were rumors he might even retire last year. Don’t forget he didn’t attend minicamps or OTAs during the summer. Eberflus isn’t going to accept marginal commitment in this defense. You’re either all the way in or you’ll be looking for employment elsewhere. Goldman won’t get away with what happened before.
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