If you ask his current and former teammates, Chicago Bears’ defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is irreplaceable. However, with the news that Goldman and backup Johnathan Jenkins will be opting out of the 2020 NFL season, replaceable is exactly what he’ll need to be.
A top defensive unit needs a strong presence up front, so expect the team to look outside the organization for a replacement. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top options available for Bears’ GM Ryan Pace to sign in free agency.
Damon (Snacks) Harrison
Easily the most popular name floating around Bears Twitter right now, Damon Harrison is an intriguing option for the team. The man known as ‘Snacks’ is a few seasons removed from his first-team All-Pro nomination, but he enjoyed a pretty solid tenure in Detroit. He recorded 130 tackles and 5.5 sacks over the past two seasons while being a significant cog in stopping the run. His production waned a bit in 2019, but one would imagine that could change playing around the talented Chicago defense. At 31 years old, this could be his last shot at playing on a winning team.
If the Bears are looking for a depth piece and a possible reclamation project, Tim Jernigan might be the move. A former second-round pick of the Ravens, Jernigan combined for 13 sacks in his first three seasons. He took that production to free agency, where he cashed in with the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s about where the praise ends. Jernigan was a massive flop for the Eagles and only mustered 4.5 sacks in 28 games. That being said, he’ll only be 28 years old by the end of the 2020 season. A one-year deal might be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Bears fans have seen plenty of Mike Daniels during his eight years in the league, mostly in Green Bay. In those eight seasons, Daniels has produced 235 combined tackles, 30 sacks, and a reputation around the league as a stout run defender. It was obvious that Daniels fell out of favor in Detroit last season, but it’s hard to believe he doesn’t have something left in the tank. At 31 years old, Daniels would bring an experienced 3-4 lineman who has proven he can get it done. Could you imagine Akiem Hicks and Mike Daniels lining up next to each other? That would be a sight to behold.
A former third overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Marcell Dareus was flat-out dominant early on in his career. In seven seasons with Buffalo, Dareus combined for 292 tackles, 35 sacks and 46 tackles for loss. Most of these numbers were in the nose tackle position on some very good Bills’ defenses. So what’s the catch? Dareus left Buffalo pretty unceremoniously, butting heads with management before being traded to Jacksonville.
To be blunt, he was not nearly the same player after the trade. It should be noted that he was asked to play in a 4-3 defensive system with the Jaguars and that never seemed to be a fit. Combine that with off-field issues and it’s been a disastrous three seasons for the former All-Pro. A fresh start with an aggressive 3-4 defense like Chicago could be exactly what Dareus needs to return to form.