What is going on with Eddie Goldman?
That has been one of the key questions for the Chicago Bears this offseason, and it’s a question that has followed the team’s starting nose tackle three games into the regular season.
The 27-year-old hasn’t played since 2019 after opting out due to concerns about COVID-19 last year, and after missing the bulk of the team’s offseason program in addition to the first two games of the season, questions about his future and commitment to the team have re-emerged in a big way.
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Bears Insider: More Questions Loom for Goldman Than Answers
Top Bears insider Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune had some concerning things to say about the situation with Goldman heading into Chicago’s Week 3 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
“Matt Nagy has said a couple of times since training camp opened that nose tackle Eddie Goldman is “rockin’ and rollin’“, but after the Chicago Bears nose tackle missed practice Friday, it’s worth wondering if he’s instead marching to the beat of a different drummer,” Biggs wrote in his September 24 column for The Chicago Tribune.
This week, Goldman practiced on back-to-back days for the first time this year, but was limited both Wednesday and Thursday before missing Friday’s practice entirely — which Biggs correctly notes is “casting doubt on his availability while raising more questions.”
“Literally with him (it’s) a day-to-day deal,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said on September 24 when asked about Goldman’s status vs the Browns. “It’s been week to week. It’s day-to-day and I think for him, just making sure that we have him where we want him and he feels to how he wants to feel.”
The last time Nagy was so wishy-washy about a player was rookie offensive lineman Teven Jenkins, who the Bears coach repeatedly said the arrow was pointing up for multiple times before the team placed him on injured reserve because he needed surgery. We’ll see if Goldman plays Week 3, but if he misses his third straight game — one in which the Bears defense could desperately use his run-stuffing tendencies against the likes of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt — it might be time to press the panic button.
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Could Goldman’s Contract Have Something to Do With His Recent Absences?
Biggs reported this summer that multiple sources told him Goldman was considering retirement this offseason, and while that didn’t happen, Biggs did break down the way Goldman’s contract is structured, and it could explain why he has been missing so much time lately:
Goldman did not participate in the voluntary offseason program and skipped mandatory minicamp in June, incurring a $93,085 fine and raising questions about his commitment to the team. Retiring would have opened the door for the team to pursue $6 million in prorated bonus money Goldman received as part of the four-year, $42 million extension he signed before the 2018 season, and he arrived on time for training camp and in excellent shape. Goldman has a $4.75 million base salary this season but doesn’t have any money tied up in per-game roster bonuses that have become common for some players. Those clauses require the player to be on the active game-day roster to earn weekly bonuses.
That could explain why the veteran d-lineman has been so lax about returning and being active on game day. There’s literally no contractual requirement to do so — at least not one that penalizes him in any way for missing time — nor are there incentives built in to encourage his presence.
Goldman has missed significant time over the last few weeks with a knee injury, and Nagy said he’ll be a game-time decision Week 3. If he continues to miss games, however, don’t expect to see him in a Bears uniform next season. The Bears could save $8.86 million if they choose to make Goldman a post-June 1 cut next year, and that’s the likely outcome unless the veteran nose tackle gets on the field in a hurry.