The latest update on Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen isn’t a promising one. The speedy gadget back was placed on the physically unable to perform list before the start of the season, and according to Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune, the team’s latest roster move may be a bad sign when it comes to Cohen’s return.
The Bears sent a sixth-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for wide receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant on October 5. Grant was a second-team All-Pro punt returner last season, and he’s set to return punts and possibly kicks for the team moving forward. Cohen tore his ACL Week 3 last season, and he hasn’t practiced in an official capacity since. In fact, according to Biggs, it doesn’t look like the 5-foot-6 running back is going to be seeing any action any time soon.
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Biggs: Cohen May Not Return Until 2022 Season
In his weekly Q&A column, Biggs was asked when Cohen was coming back, and he had an ominous answer:
I saw Cohen jogging out of the tunnel to the Bears sideline Sunday at Soldier Field, and he’s not jogging without a clear issue with his knee. When he has been spotted at practice — and he’s constantly around the team — he isn’t moving around with a normal gait. Just based off that, Cohen doesn’t look close to returning. Add the fact the Bears traded a 2023 sixth-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for wide receiver Jakeem Grant, a return specialist, and I believe that is further evidence Cohen is not close to returning. I’m sure he’s making progress, and the Bears have said he’s working his butt off in rehabilitation, but I wouldn’t put a timeline on his availability. All I can say is he doesn’t look close to being game-ready based on my observations, and with Grant in the fold and the team flipping a draft pick for him, it’s possible Cohen won’t be an option until late in the season or until 2022.
While Biggs is no doctor, he is one of the team’s top insiders, and when he tweets or reports something, it has weight behind it. If he’s still limping, as Biggs reports, the outlook isn’t good for the talented back to return this season.
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Could Bears Move on From Cohen in 2022?
So far, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has refused to put a timetable on Cohen’s return.
“For him, every single day he’s coming in and working,” Nagy said on August 30. “He’s at a point right now where he’s getting better every day. He’s not where he needs to be right now. But he is improving and the only thing that we can do is keep grinding with that rehab. That’s all he can do. He’s unbelievable in the meetings. He’s the same as he’s always been. Physically, we’ve got to just keep taking it day by day, and I’m not going to put a timeline on that.”
A little over a month later, and the outlook for his return is still bleak. Considering Chicago re-signed Cohen to a three-year, $17,250,000 contract shortly before his injury last season, it’s not outlandish to suggest that if he’s not back to top form whenever he returns, the Bears could choose to move on.
Cohen has a cap hit of $5.7 million in 2022, per Spotrac. If the Bears released him prior to next season — and that remains a definite possibility, particularly if he’s not the same player when he returns. His 2022 salary is fully guaranteed once March 2022 rolls around, however, so Chicago has a big decision to make about the running back and All-Pro punt returner.