The Chicago Bears will be very thin at nose tackle for a little while.
Just this week, the Chicago Bears were informed by starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman that he will be opting out of the 2020 NFL season due to concerns related to COVID-19. Given that the NFL is already a “next man up” type of business, for the most part, everyone then turned their attention to backup John Jenkins.
The Bears brought Jenkins back over the offseason after he played for Chicago back in 2017 as a reserve.
Thursday afternoon, the Bears announced that Jenkins was added to the COVID-19/reserve list.
Without Jenkins, the Bears’ next option to fill in at nose tackle is undrafted rookie Lee Autry out of Mississippi State. Autry is currently listed as the team’s third nose tackle and likely would have been cut, had it not been for Goldman’s opt-out and Jenkins’ situation.
Behind Autry, the Bears don’t have another nose tackle. One option may be trying Bilal Nichols at the nose spot and then starting Roy Robertson-Harris in his place. Nichols can play a little bit of both positions if need be, but he’s not a long-term solution at nose.
When the Goldman news broke, many fans immediately turned to a guy like Damon Harrison, formerly of the Lions and Giants. He’s been one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles for a while, and is still a free agent as we speak.
Another possibility is former Packers and Lions defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who is also a free agent. The Bears know him well, and he’s just a couple years removed from a highly productive season.
A wildcard free agent that the Bears could look at is veteran Marcell Dareus, who has had some issues with character in the past. But, he’s also been a menace on the field.
At this stage, Ryan Pace has to get a veteran into camp. He has no choice. Without Goldman for the entirety of the season, and no Jenkins for the foreseeable future, the Bears have a gigantic hole in their defensive line.
Whatever Pace decides to do, we should know fairly quickly. With camp beginning and the season right around the corner, Chicago has to fill out their line in a hurry. The good news is, the Bears won’t be practicing with pads for about a week and a half. So, Jenkins does have a little time.