A former Chicago Bears starting defensive tackle is coming out of retirement to attempt to boost the Atlanta Falcons’ roster for the 2023 season.
According to the NFL’s official transaction wire for March 21, the Falcons have reinstated former Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman from the reserve/retired list and will now plan to have the 29-year-old veteran on their defensive line for next season.
Goldman, a 2015 second-round pick for the Bears, started 73 games over his seven years as Chicago’s nose tackle and has recorded 13 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 175 total tackles over his career. He had signed with the Falcons last offseason a few months after general manager Ryan Poles and the Bears’ new regime cut him loose, but he opted to retire from the NFL just 13 days after signing his one-year deal with Atlanta.
Now, eight months later, Goldman is back and looking to crack the Falcons’ defensive line rotation that currently features Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham and newly signed David Onyemata — who is projected to be their starting defensive tackle after inking a three-year, $35 million contract with Atlanta at the start of 2023 free agency.
Eddie Goldman Has Taken NFL Hiatuses Twice Now
Goldman is now coming back from his second self-imposed NFL hiatus of the past three seasons. Back during the COVID-19 pandemic, Goldman was one of several players who chose to opt-out from the 2020 season, a decision that left the Bears defense without one of their better interior players who had been a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019. The 6-foot-3, 332-pound nose tackle also seemed to have lost a step once he returned to the Bears in 2021, finishing the year with career-lows in sacks (0.5) and tackles for loss (one) while also missing three games with a knee injury.
The question now is: Will Goldman come back strong enough to compete in 2023?
Goldman has never publicly given a reason for his abrupt retirement decision in 2022, but the fact of the matter is he has played just 14 total games since December 22, 2019, and faces a steep challenge to convince the Falcons they still need him on their roster. On paper, he has the experience to contend for a depth spot on the Falcons’ defensive line — especially with a few of their top guys coming off of injuries — but he needs to physically prove he is up to the task in offseason workouts and training camp. He could also have some top-level rookie talent giving him a run for his money depending on how deeply the Falcons add to their defensive line during the 2023 NFL draft.
Ryan Pace’s Re-acquired Bears Have Mostly Flopped
There was a running gag of sorts during the 2022 offseason that former Bears general manager Ryan Pace was trying to rebuild his version of the Bears with the Falcons. Atlanta had hired him as a senior personnel executive about a month after Chicago dismissed him from his GM duties and several of their free agent signings were players that Pace had drafted or signed during their time leading the Bears’ front office.
Looking back on the 2022 campaign, though, most of the former Bears who followed Pace to Atlanta flopped rather than flew.
Germain Ifedi, a former Bears interior lineman, was reduced to mostly a special teams role with the Falcons in 2022, playing just eight snaps — all run-blocking — of offense on the season despite being healthy for all 17 games. Veteran wide receiver Damiere Byrd had a few highlight-worthy catches but finished with his fewest receptions (13) and receiving yards (268) in the four years since getting tossed aside by Carolina. There were also two ex-Bears — guard Elijah Wilkinson and running back Damien Williams — who spent most of the season on the injured reserve list. All in all, not a great haul.
The one exception is Cordarrelle Patterson, but he doesn’t really count considering that he signed with the Falcons a full year before Pace arrived. In fact, Patterson’s success with Atlanta over the past two seasons highlights another one of Pace’s poor decisions, as he was the one who opted not to re-sign Patterson after he delivered two first-team All-Pro seasons for Chicago in 2019 and 2020.