Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman made the difficult decision to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season, an option that was made available to him as a result of the NFL and NFLPA's agreement to return to play in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goldman's decision has left the Bears with few options to replace him on the roster. Veteran John Jenkins is the obvious choice, but he was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last week. Roy Robertson-Harris and Bilal Nichols will do their part to shoulder the load, too.
The best place for Ryan Pace to look for Goldman's replacement might be the free-agent market. Several veterans remain unsigned, and three of them make sense for from a run-stopping perspective.
According to a recent breakdown of players who can replace each team's opt-outs so far, Domata Peko, Mike Daniels, and Damon Harrison rank as three quality candidates to fill-in for Goldman.
Snacks Harrison would be the most appealing from this list, considering his experience playing in the NFC North with the Lions. He started 15 games for Detroit in 2019 and finished the season with 49 tackles and two sacks. At 6-3 and 350 pounds, Snacks fits the description of a run-stuffing dancing bear.
The Bears should have the salary cap relief to sign him, too. Goldman's opt-out frees up about $5 million in cap space, bringing the Bears to around $16 million under the cap. Harrison's deal with the Lions paid him $11 million last year.
Like Harrison, Daniels is an experienced NFC North defender who Bears fans are all too familiar with from his days with the Packers. Daniels has an ever-growing injury history, however, that dates back to 2018 and continued into 2019 when he appeared in just nine games. He managed just 10 tackles and one sack in his only season in Detroit.
Daniels' best days may be behind him, but he could be added on the cheap and at least provide the Bears with a quality rotational option.
Then there's Peko, who at 35 years old is clearly at (or very close) to the end of his NFL road. Does he have one more season in him? Probably, considering he only played eight games in 2019 for the Ravens (including the playoffs) and logged just 158 snaps. He was much more active for the Broncos in 2018, when he managed 523 reps.
Compare that to Goldman, who registered 467 snaps in 2019.
The point here is this: Pace has both the cap space and the veteran options required to get through a season without Goldman. Whether he takes advantage of it is another question entirely. No one would blame Pace if he decided to trust the options he has in-house in what's going to be such a crazy and unpredictable season.