New Details Emerge About Bears & Future of Tarik Cohen

Tarik Cohen

Getty Running back Tarik Cohen of the Chicago Bears looks on before a game at Soldier Field.

Tarik Cohen hasn’t seen the field since Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season.

The running back and All-Pro punt returner for the Chicago Bears tore his right anterior cruciate ligament after fielding a punt against the Atlanta Falcons, and his rehabilitation has been a slow and seemingly painful process.

Cohen signed a three-year contract extension worth $17.25 million just weeks prior to the injury, and he carries a $5.75 million cap hit in 2022. Considering his hefty price tag coupled with his lack of production over the previous two seasons, the gadget back is a likely set to be cap casualty — and Bears insider Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune shared some revealing details about what to look for when it comes to Cohen’s future in the Windy City.

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Key Date to Watch With Bears & Cohen: March 16

In is February 23 column for the Tribune, Biggs revealed a key date to watch when it comes to Cohen’s potential release:

A key date for Cohen is coming up shortly after the new league year starts March 16. He has a $3.9 million base salary for 2022, and $2.5 million of that becomes fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the trigger date. Typically, these trigger dates are in the first few days of the league year. Right now, $2.5 million of his base salary is guaranteed for injury, and Cohen has missed the last 31 games (including postseason) since tearing the ACL in his right knee early in the 2020 season. Needless to say, it has been a long road back with at least one significant detour. Given the time he has missed and the money he’s owed — $4 million when including a workout bonus — I would not be surprised if the Bears decided to move on.

Many expected Cohen to return at some point during the 2021 season, but when that didn’t happen, questions mounted about the severity of his injury, with some wondering what had gone wrong during the recovery process. It didn’t help that the team and former head coach Matt Nagy remained mum about it. Now, with a new regime in Chicago, Cohen’s exit feels imminent at this point.

“The team has said next to nothing about his rehabilitation and how it differed from a more typical return from an ACL injury,” Biggs noted, adding: “That seems like a lot of money to pay a gadget player on offense and punt returner, but that’s just my opinion. The timing of the guarantee in the base salary and the change in front office and coaching staff certainly complicate things.”

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Cohen Has Been Candid About His Difficult Recovery

In a discussion with The Ringer’s Kevin Clark on February 8, Cohen got candid about his ACL injury and subsequent struggles in recovery. When asked what has kept him motivated during his recovery, he gave a very honest and raw response.

“It’s mainly fear,” he said. “I’m scared to come back a different player not the same when I was. I won’t let myself come back before I’m ready and before I feel I can put the same performances on that I was putting on before I got hurt.”

Cohen was named a first-team All-Pro punt returner in 2018, and he also made the Pro Bowl that year after amassing over 1,100 total yards and eight scores on offense. He was a key cog in Nagy’s offense for several seasons, but he has no attachments to new general manager Ryan Poles or head coach Matt Eberflus. Thus, don’t be surprised if Cohen gets his walking papers before mid-March.

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