LAKE FOREST – At times in his tenure with the Bears, he showed his ability to be a dynamic, game-changing contributor on offense and special teams. That’s why the running back was given a contract extension early in the 2020 season.
But a knee injury just days after that move changed Tarik Cohen’s career trajectory in Chicago, and now it’s reportedly come to an end.
Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Bears are releasing the running back and kick returner with an injury designation just ahead of the start of the new league year on March 16th. The team has yet to confirm the move.
It’s the second major move in as many days for new general manager Ryan Poles, who reportedly traded All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chargers on Thursday.
Cohen hasn’t played for the Bears since he tore his ACL against the Falcons in Week 3 of the 2020 season at Mercedes Benz Stadium. This came just days after he signed a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension.
The injury would linger into 2021 with his rehabilitation never getting his knee healthy enough to take the field for the Bears.
A fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by then general manager Ryan Pace, Cohen played in 51 games for the Bears over four seasons. A dual-threat with his speed and catching ability, he rushed for 1,101 yards (4.2 per carry) and five touchdowns while making 209 catches for 1,575 yards and nine scores.
As a returner, mostly on punts, Cohen was developing into one of the best in the game in his first three seasons. He averaged 10.3 yards per return in 71 chances in his Bears’ career with a touchdown in his rookie season of 2017.
His 411 yards gained on 33 returns (12.5 yards per attempt) in 2018 made him a Pro Bowl selection and a first-team NFL All-Pro as a return specialist.
In 2020, however, he only made one attempt at a return in the three games he played, and it was on that one that he tore his ACL in what ended up behind his final play with the team. On offense, he had just three carries for 17 yards and six catches for 41 yards in those first contests of the season.