No 3-4 defense can truly be successful without strong play from its nose tackle. It’s the unsung position of the unit, a guy who won’t necessarily show up much in the box score but who does the dirty work to make sure the other 10 guys on the field can make plays.
And so, the Bears signed Eddie Goldman to a four-year, $42 million extension on Friday with $25 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The 2015 second-round pick, when healthy, is a critical component of Vic Fangio’s defense, a guy who soaks up double-teams on the interior of the line and allows Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith to play fast.
Those are the guys who the Bears expect to show up on highlight reels on Twitter and Instagram in 2018. But inside the walls of Halas Hall, Goldman’s play is frequently showcased in Jay Rodgers’ defensive line room — and that’s what counts the most.
“I don’t know about you all, but I don’t put any of the highlight reels on national television,” Rodgers said earlier this year. “I have a highlight reel in my room. And if I see him knock people back and make a play, or knock another guy back on his way to the quarterback that affects the pocket, that’s a highlight in my mind.
“… If you’re taking on a 700-pound double team, you don’t realize — Danny Trevathan’s in the backfield making the play, but nobody talks about the 700-pound double team. There’s a little bit of dirty work and that’s our job description, is to do that stuff. And that’s what helps you win games.”
Goldman was set to hit free agency after the season had the Bears not worked on a contract extension. General manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week, after signing Mack to the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history, that the Bears were still in a good position salary cap-wise to get a deal done with those who deserved it. He didn't mention Goldman specifically, but it was clear who he was talking about with that comment.
"This is a key extension for the future of the Bears and an anchor for our defense,” Pace said Friday. “We are excited to be able to reward one of our own in Eddie. We put pride in drafting and developing players and Eddie has put the work in every day to earn this opportunity.”
Goldman is only 24 and will remain part of a core of Bears defensive players that have similar youth: Hicks (28), Mack (27), Kyle Fuller (26), Eddie Jackson (25) and Smith (21) are all under team control through at least the 2020 season, while Floyd (26), Adrian Amos (25), Nick Kwiatkoski (25), Roy Robertson-Harris (25) and Jonathan Bullard (24) will all be important members of at least the 2018 defense.
While an argument can be made that more than $10 million per year and $25 million guaranteed is a lot of money for a guy who only played 57 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps in 2017, it’s also not easy to find a player as adept at Goldman at doing the things this coaching staff values in its nose tackles.
“He’s a beast, man,” Trevathan said. “I’m glad to have him in front of me. He’s not a guy who’s rah-rah, but when he’s out there, he’s out there making plays. It doesn’t show up on film but he’s the key, he’s a vital part of this defense. He’s wrecking stuff in there.
“As a linebacker, that’s my best friend. The more he can wreck, the more I can make plays and we all can make plays. It shows to us, and probably not to the public as much, but to us we know what his game is and we know what he brings to this defense. He’s definitely making us better.”