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Chalk Talk: Is Goldman returning after opting out?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

I haven't seen or heard anything about Eddie Goldman since the end of the season. Is he returning to the Bears after opting out of the 2020 season?
Paul K.

Listening to general manager Ryan Pace on a video call with reporters Tuesday, it certainly sounded like the Bears anticipate that veteran nose tackle Eddie Goldman will return to the team in 2021 after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Said Pace: "We've communicated with Eddie on a regular basis. We did that during the season as well. Obviously, we really missed him this year. Excited to get him back in the mix. Coach [Chris] Rumph, our new defensive line coach, has communicated with him as well. So that's all been part of it and obviously he's a big piece of what we're doing. So we're excited about that." Getting Goldman back obviously should provide a huge boost for the defense.

With the salary cap lower than expected in 2021 because of COVID, do you think the Bears are going to release some veterans in the next couple weeks?
Ryan D.
Bolingbrook, Illinois

GM Ryan Pace on Tuesday confirmed a report that the Bears are releasing veteran nickel back Buster Skrine. With the salary cap expected to be around $180 million—or $20 million less than originally expected—more players could be cut or have their contracts restructured to create cap space, something the Bears have done in the past. Here's how Pace responded when asked by a reporter whether veterans Akiem Hicks or Kyle Fuller could be cap casualties: "Without getting into specific players, this is going to be a year [where] it's going to be about adjusting. We're not the only team in the league dealing with these circumstances. Everyone's prepping for a tighter cap. We have a plan in place with that. It involves different things. There's different ways for us to create room with our cap, not just releasing players. That's a hard part of the business. We had a difficult decision with Buster yesterday and there'll be some decisions to make. I think you're going to see more of that around the league than you've ever seen. But we're prepared. We're expecting the cap to be about 180 [million], so we're prepared for that and we'll operate accordingly."

When the college football season ended, most draft experts were saying that Alabama quarterback Mac Jones would probably be available when the Bears picked at No. 20 in the first round. Why, all of a sudden, are they all now projecting him as a top-10 or top-15 pick? What changed?
Phil W.

Mac Jones likely boosted his draft stock by performing very well in Senior Bowl practices in late January. Although he's considered the fifth best quarterback in the draft by some analysts, the top four are all underclassmen. So Jones was the only one among them eligible for the Senior Bowl, and he made the most of his opportunities to shine in practice (though he didn't play in the game due to an ankle injury he sustained late in the week). Add to that his stellar senior season at Alabama and it's easy to understand why Jones is projected by some to be a top-10 pick. Last year he led the Crimson Tide to the national championship, passing for 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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