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Bears Could Look for Free Agent Help at Nose Tackle

General manager Ryan Pace indicated the team's depth on the defensive line is an asset in replacing opt-out nose tackle Eddie Goldman but also reminded there's time to find someone else

With nose tackle Eddie Goldman gone for the season due to the COVID-19 opt-out, Bears general manager Ryan Pace won't rule out bringing in help to man his spot.

Nevertheless, the preference at the time is for the Bears to take a good look at the depth they've built up in the defensive line.

"Look, you know we are always looking at ways to improve our team and our roster," Pace said Wednesday when he and coach Matt Nagy met virtually with media for the first time in this training camp. "There is a lot of avenues for us to do that.

"It doesn't mean it has to be right now. But there will be opportunities ahead of us as well."

The list of available defensive linemen in free agency includes players like Damon "Snacks" Harrison and former Packers and Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels, as well as several other veterans.

Since Jay Rodgers has been defensive line coach, the Bears have never been at a loss depth-wise.

"Especially on the defensive line, when you talk about guys like Roy Robertson-Harris, Bilal (Nichols), John Jenkins and Brent Urban and then you factor in Jay Rodgers who I think is an outstanding coach, it gives us a lot of confidence with that position," Pace said.

Nichols, Robertson-Harris and Urban were on the group tested last year when Akiem Hicks went out for essentially 12 games due to an elbow injury. However, they had Nick Williams in their ranks then and Goldman was playing as well.

With Hicks back this year, it's a matter of finding someone who can hold down the middle, whether in this current group or elsewhere.

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The move by Goldman came as no surprise.

"He communicated at first through email and then we ended up talking in person," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "Just having that discussion was very important here to understand that for us, we completely support him."

Both Nagy and Pace stressed any players who come to them and decide to opt out will be met with acceptance understanding. They believe it's an attitude pervasive throughout the team an organization.

"He's a part of our family and this is what he chose to do and we just got to make sure on our end now that we don't flinch and we move forward," Nagy said. "But he did it the right way and we feel good about where we're at and fully support him."

The Bears have another player on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in rookie running back Artavis Pierce. However, he can return. 

Pace said he's not worried about the depth at running back. 

As for any other possible opt-outs?

"That’s just an unpredictable question," Pace said. "It’s such an individual decision, such a personal decision that we’re very respectful of. So I really can’t answer that."

The Bears feel they've taken every measure to keep Halas Hall free of COVID-19, although it's uncertain whether this would sway anyone who is weighing such a decision.

"What I can say is I’m confident when our players get here and they see what we've done as a staff to the facility, using our entire footprint, I think it’s going to give a lot of confidence to our players and staff, and it should because we’ve taken all the measures we've can to make sure everybody feels really good about what we’re doing," Pace said.