Bears’ Former Defensive Starter Unretires, Signs With Falcons

Former Chicago Bears starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman is coming out of NFL retirement — again — and will rejoin the Atlanta Falcons for the 2024 season.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Falcons intend to sign Goldman to a new contract for the 2024 season after initially releasing him from their exempt/left squad list on April 2. He will now attempt his second NFL comeback in as many years.

Goldman, 30, signed with the Falcons during the 2022 offseason following his release from the Bears, but he retired just 13 days after his arrival. Then, eight months later, he changed his mind and ended his retirement, receiving full reinstatement to the Falcons … only for him to change his mind again shortly after the start of training camp in July.

To this point, Goldman has still not played a single snap for the Falcons.

The Falcons could get a boost from Goldman if he returns to form in 2024, but it is tough to project how successful his comeback will be. He just turned 30 in January and has not played a single snap since his final game with the Bears in Week 18 of the 2021 season. Goldman also played his worst season in 2021, finishing with a career-high eight missed tackles and a career-low eight defensive stops, per Pro Football Focus.

Still, if the contract terms are reasonable, the Falcons can afford to roll the dice.

Eddie Goldman Among Ryan Poles’ 1st Veteran Cuts

When the Bears fired Ryan Pace as general manager and hired Ryan Poles as his replacement early in the 2022 season, Poles wasted little time before getting to work on offloading pricey veteran contracts and stripping his roster down to the bare bones.

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In a three-day stretch from March 13 to 15, Poles released Goldman, linebacker Danny Trevathan and running back Tarik Cohen and traded All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 third-rounder. He also released veteran quarterback Nick Foles about two months later, setting the stage for the massive franchise rebuild that is just now nearing completion.

In hindsight, Poles made the right call with all of his veteran cuts. One could argue that finding a way to keep Mack  — who notched a career-high 17 sacks in 2023 — had merit, but Mack had missed 10 games with an injury in 2021 and had already turned 30. For a team diving into a full-scale rebuild that knew it was a few years away from contending, carrying Mack’s top-of-market contract during that time simply did not make sense.

There is no question about the other cuts, though. None of the three — Goldman, Trevathan or Cohen — has played a snap since leaving the Bears during the 2022 offseason. Foles played three games in relief for the Indianapolis Colts in 2022, but he did not play in 2023 and remains unsigned a few weeks into 2024 NFL free agency.

You have to hand it to Poles; he had a vision and he carried it out.

Will Bears Add Another Interior DL in 2024 NFL Draft?

The Bears clearly made the right decision with Eddie Goldman in 2022, but they still have questions about the interior of their defensive line heading into the 2024 NFL draft later this month. The group improved in the last year, adding veteran Andrew Billings and rookies Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens to its core, but the Bears did not re-sign Justin Jones in free agency and need someone to fill the void for next year.

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Could they potentially seek someone in the NFL draft for that responsibility?

The Bears are almost certain to use their No. 1 overall selection on a new quarterback, but it is possible they could look to target a defensive tackle with their No. 9 pick — or, more plausibly, if they move back further into the first round. They could easily decide a top left tackle, wide receiver or edge rusher interests them more in the first round, but Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton and Texas’ Byron Murphy II offer temptation.

The Bears could also resolve to find a defensive tackle with either their third- or fourth-round selections. LSU’s Maason Smith would be a quality addition to compete with Dexter for snaps in the three-technique role — if he lasts until Pick 75 in the third. They might also consider Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr.; though, he might be better suited for the other interior spot behind or in competition with Billings.

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