Leading up to Bears training camp in late July, Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2021 season.
What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?
Justin Fields might not be the best player on the Bears in 2021 (or maybe he will be), but he certainly is among the most important.
No. 13 Eddie Goldman
Position: Defensive tackle
NFL experience: Sixth season
Looking back: Nose tackle Eddie Goldman developed into a run stopper for the Bears after they selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft. He was a key part of the defense’s 2018 success and was recognized as a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019. He had 29 total tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack in 2019. His presence was felt much more on film than it is in the stat book. He can disrupt the middle even when he’s not making tackles.
Goldman opted out of the pandemic season in 2020 and hasn’t made a public appearance since. He skipped OTAs and mandatory veteran minicamp. Coach Matt Nagy wasn’t happy about it.
Looking forward: Rumors have swirled online, but nobody can say for sure what’s going on with Goldman. As linebacker Danny Trevathan said, Goldman is a hard man to get in touch with. He hasn’t posted on his Twitter or Instagram accounts in years. Bears fans won’t know for sure what his status is until he shows up – or doesn’t – for training camp at the end of the month. Goldman was spotted in social media posts last week training at Spear Training Center in Vernon Hills, not far from Halas Hall, which should give fans some optimism that he’ll be back.
The fact is, the Bears need Goldman. Having a high-caliber nose tackle solves a lot of issues for the defense and makes life easier for Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn on the outside. It also makes the defensive line less reliant on Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols. There will be concerns, too, about what type of shape Goldman will be in when he shows up after sitting out an entire season.