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Ryan Poles’ Moves Already Putting Bears in Stable Position

Poles made bold moves by not retaining Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols, and they may already be paying off.

Eddie Goldman Chicago Bears
Photo: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

First-year Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles had some very difficult decisions to make upon joining the organization. One of them entailed breaking up the Bears’ strong defensive front to free up cap space and bring in younger players. Bears’ fans found the dismantling process a frustrating truth to face.

Of course, Poles made waves when he traded Khalil Mack to the Chargers for a pair of draft picks. But he also released Eddie Goldman in addition to letting Bulls Nichols and Akiem Hicks walk. While reasonable skepticism regarding the Mack and Hicks moves persists, moving on from Nichols and Goldman may be working in the Bears’ favor.

The Eddie Goldman Saga Ends

Goldman wreaked all kinds of havoc on the Bears’ defensive front from 2015-2019. It wasn’t until 2020 when COVID-19 hit that Goldman’s path changed. He elected to opt out that year due to concerns brought on by the pandemic.

Entering 2021, many expected Goldman to return to being an interior defensive line force, but he didn’t. Instead, he logged career lows across the stat sheet during his final season in Chicago. Poles decided that cutting Goldman and saving $7 million was the best option.

On Tuesday, Goldman informed his new team, the Atlanta Falcons, that he was retiring. If Poles hadn’t moved on from the 28-year-old, the Bears would currently be scrambling to find a replacement off the scrap heap. Sure, Poles didn’t know for certain that Goldman would hang up the cleats upon cutting him. But the rookie GM’s approach to reconstructing the Bears’ defensive front now allows the team to enter camp with options already on the roster.

Moving On From Bilal Nichols

Bilal Nichols’ departure is a different scenario than the Eddie Goldman saga. With the Chicago Bears changing defensive schemes now that Matt Eberflus is at the helm, Poles likely didn’t see Nichols as a fit. The money the Bears would have paid Nichols instead went to Justin Jones, who will play a key role out of the three-technique.

Nichols eventually signed a two-year deal with the Raiders. Now, Las Vegas has placed Nichols on the PUP list, which could put his Week 1 status in jeopardy. While it’s unfortunate timing for the Raiders and sheer luck for the Bears, Chicago won’t have to deal with this issue due to Poles’ decision to move on from the 25-year-old.

When it comes to the rebuild, Ryan Poles isn’t keeping players around solely based on their past performance or ties to the team. Instead, he is evaluating inconsistencies and scheme fits when it comes to choosing who to pay. These moves may not pay off this season, but the Bears have $96.3 million in cap space for 2023. This gives Poles more than enough room to fill in the gaps between the players that develop this year.

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Walt Deezy
Walt Deezy
18 days ago

Seems a bit lame to me. So every player we didnt sign that doesnt have a good year is going to show how smart Poles is? So every player he let go that has a great season shows how dumb he is. And every player he brought in to replace someone he let go that sucks, will show him to be dumb too. If you wanna give him credit for the very few things that have worked out, then you have to blame him when things dont. I want to be wrong but I know a money saving cheap skate rebuild when i see it.

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