Five days after making Khalil Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, the Bears continued to solidify their defensive core Friday by signing nose tackle Eddie Goldman to a four-year, $42-million extension through the 2022 season, with $25 million guaranteed.
The 24-year-old Goldman, a second-round draft pick (39th overall) in 2015, has developed into an effective force in the middle — mostly as a run-stopper — in his three seasons. He had 43 tackles and three tackles-for-loss in 2017, with 1.5 sacks. Goldman has pass-rush ability as well. He had 4.5 sacks in 12 starts as a rookie and 8.5 sacks in 32 starts in his career.
“He does everything the right way,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s very, very consistent. You see the improvement each year, he’s just a very important part of this puzzle on defense and we recognize that. When that’s the case, you want to make sure you take care of your own. He’s one of ours.”
The Bears have been quick to do that under general manager Ryan Pace, who has given contract extensions to guard Kyle Long (four years, $40 million in 2016), defensive end Akiem Hicks (four years, $48 million in 2017) and offensive tackle Charles Leno (four years, $38 million in 2017). They also signed cornerbacks Kyle Fuller (four years, $56 million in 2018) and Prince Amukamara (three years, $27 million in 2018) in free agency after both players had an impressive 2017 season for the Bears.
One concern with Goldman was his health. He struggled with recurring injuries in 2016, missing nine games altogether. But he played in 15 games last season to quell those doubts.
“It’s definitely like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Goldman said. “Your mind can be cleared. Ready to get Week 1 over with.”
Goldman said he considered taking a chance on parlaying a big 2018 season into an even bigger payday. But he was comfortable with the timing.
“Mainly I was focused on getting a deal done,” he said.
With Goldman signed through 2022, every expected defensive starter except safety Adrian Amos is signed through the 2019 season: Mack (2024), Hicks (2021), Fuller (2021), linebacker Roquan Smith (2021), safety Eddie Jackson (2020), Amukamara (2020), outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (2019), inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (2019) and defensive end Jonathan Bullard (2019). Amos is in the final year of his rookie contract. Coordinator Vic Fangio is signed through 2020.
The stability and youth of the defense was an encouraging factor, Goldman said. This will be his fourth year in Fangio’s defense.
“That’s definitely going to be key,” he said. “I think the oldest guy is like 28 or 29, so a lot of guys could be here for a long time. Hopefully build a legacy that we hope to remember. … [There are] a lot of changes in the league and I’m thankful to be in the same system for this amount of time.”
The acquisition of Mack only solidified his resolve to sign now.
“He’s a person that could change the whole dynamic,” Goldman said. “A lot of attention’s going to be on him and that’ll open up a lot of opportunities for me and other guys on the d-line, too.”
Khalil Mack: Shot or no shot
Nagy said “there’s a good shot” that Mack will play against the Packers after signing with the team Sunday and practicing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Both Mack and rookie linebacker Roquan Smith are expected to play against the Packers, likely on a limited basis.
The Bears will go into Week 1 with all starters available. Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (forearm/back) is out and tight end Daniel Brown (shoulder) is doubtful for the Packers. Long was rested Friday, but is expected to start.