COVID-19 and its aftermath have just dealt the Bears defense a difficult blow to accept.
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman has opted out of the season according to an NFL Network report.
Considering the way the other NFC North teams have built up their running attacks the last two years, this is a tremendous blow to the Bears on defense.
Goldman has been a Pro Bowl alternate twice and was on the all-rookie team in 2015, and was a key reason the 2018 defense led the NFL in run defense.
The report indicated Goldman has health concerns, and would receive a $350,000 stipend for the year if this is the case.
Goldman has been a starter since being drafted out of Florida State in 2015. He has 153 career tackles and 12 1/2 sacks, as well as 17 tackles for loss. He usually played around half the snap counts when healthy, last year dropping to 44% but he missed the final game with a concussion.
The Bears finished sixth ninth against the run last year overall and sixth in yards allowed per rush as Goldman held his own with defensive line mate Akiem Hicks hurt much of the season.
The Bears lost Nick Williams to free agency after last season and he had played some of the snaps at nose tackle when Goldman went out. The Bears during free agency signed former Bears backup nose tackle John Jenkins and he would be in line to replace Goldman. It would be unlikely they would move Akeim Hicks to play nose tackle, although at 352 pounds he could no doubt fit this role. Hicks is too valuable as a play maker at defensive end in the 3-4 to put him inside where the goal is to occupy blockers.
Jenkins has played in 82 games over a career that started in 2013 with the New Orleans Saints, when Bears GM Ryan Pace was there as well as Hicks.
Jenkins appeared in eight games with the Bears in 2017 and made eight tackles. He played 3 1/2 seasons for New Orleans, two games for Seattle, half of 2018 with the Giants and last year started five games for Miami, the most games he's started since 2015 with New Orleans.