Bears offseason outlook: Defensive line

Bilal Nichols was the latest Bears defensive lineman to have a breakout season.

Editor's note: This marks the sixth piece in a series of positional outlooks for the Bears' roster entering this offseason. Click here to read the rest of them.

(670 The Score) Since selecting nose tackle Eddie Goldman in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Bears have had success in developing defensive linemen.

Between Goldman, Akiem Hicks (free agency), Bilal Nichols (fifth round in 2018), Roy Robertson-Harris (undrafted free agent in 2016) and more, the Bears have done an excellent job of guiding young defensive linemen toward their full potential.

That will now be the challenge for new defensive line coach Chris Rumph, who replaces Jay Rodgers after Rodgers held the job for the past six seasons. The Bears are in a good place with their defensive line but must continue to develop their players like they did under Rodgers' guidance. Here's where Chicago's defensive line stands entering this offseason.

Who's under contract
Akiem Hicks, 31 -- A leader for the Bears' defense and relentless presence on the line, Hicks continues to play at a high level.

Eddie Goldman, 27 -- The Bears missed Goldman's presence at nose tackle in 2020 after he opted out of playing during the pandemic. They were forced to rearrange their line to fill his void.

Bilal Nichols, 24 -- A fifth-round pick of the Bears in 2018, Nichols posted a career-best five sacks last season and has quickly become one of the team's better draft picks in recent years.

LaCale London, 23 -- An undrafted free agent out of Western Illinois, London was on the Bears' practice squad last season.

Free agents
Mario Edwards, 27 -- Edwards played well in 2020 in recording four sacks in 15 games, but he'll open the 2021 season with a two-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Brent Urban, 29 -- A midseason pickup in 2019, Urban has played 25 games with the Bears and recorded 2.5 sacks last season.

Roy Robertson-Harris, 27 -- For the first time in his career, Robertson-Harris is an unrestricted free agent. He's set to hit the open market after an injury-shortened eight-game season.

John Jenkins, 31 -- Jenkins returned to the Bears for a second stint in 2020, playing in 11 games.

Daniel McCullers, 28 -- The 6-foot-7, 352-pound McCullers played in three games last season.

Quote to note
"I always told myself, if a guy was better than me, it was just going to be because he was more talented -- not because he out-worked me. That's kind of the mindset I live by."
-- Nichols on his rise

What's ahead
Should Goldman return for the 2021 season, the Bears would fill a key void on their defensive line. Goldman's presence would allow them to slide Nichols back to an end position and give them a strong starting three along with Hicks.

But the Bears must solidify their depth on the line. Edwards seems unlikely to return given his looming suspension. Robertson-Harris and Jenkins have proved to be solid reserves.

The Bears would be wise to draft another defensive lineman, especially given how well they've identified and developed talent at the position.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.