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Bears defensive coordinator believes NT Eddie Goldman will return in 2021

Putting Goldman, a Pro Bowl alternate the last season he played, back on the defensive line would be a big boost for the Bears.

Eddie Goldman was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019, the last season he played.
Eddie Goldman was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019, the last season he played.
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

As the Bears try to elevate their defense back to greatness, the return of one of their best players should help.

New defensive coordinator Sean Desai said Monday he expects that nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019, will be back next season. Goldman and safety Jordan Lucas opted out of last season because of concerns about the coronavirus.

“I have not been given any confirmation,” Desai said as a disclaimer. “I think our expectation and his is that he will want to play, because I know he misses it and he wants to be back.”

Goldman was designated as a high-risk player and was one 67 players to sit out last season.

Before that, he had been an essential part of the Bears’ defense. In five seasons, he played 67 of 80 games, had 12.5 sacks and 153 tackles.

If Goldman is back, the Bears could have an impressive defensive line of him, Bilal Nichols and Akiem Hicks — if they keep Hicks and his $12 million salary-cap hit on the roster.

Last season, players had until Aug. 6 to opt out. The NFL and NFLPA have not set a deadline for this year.

The next mandatory on-field work for players would be Organized Team Activities in May, but the league and union haven’t negotiated whether those will be in-person or virtual.