Don’t be surprised if Tarik Cohen never plays for the Bears again

Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images /

We haven’t seen running back Tarik Cohen play since he tore his ACL over a year ago. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t suit up in a Chicago Bears uniform again.

Well, this has certainly been a tumultuous and disappointing season for the Chicago Bears. After two straight seasons finishing with a record of 8-8, many people expected to see some firings all across. General manager Ryan Pace, head coach Matt Nagy, and team president Ted Phillips were all thought to be on the hot seat.

Instead of seeing any firings, the only thing that happened was defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano retiring.

Chicago Bears CEO George McCaskey gave those people another opportunity to turn things around. Instead, we see more of the same. The Bears own a 4-7 record and just ended a five-game losing streak. The offense continues to struggle under Nagy’s coaching.

The offensive line that Pace assembled is still far from being good. The two players he drafted to help improve the unit missed multiple games. The wide receivers unit is fast, but not much more after that. On defense, the secondary is extremely weak without Kyle Fuller.

Will there be firings this offseason? That would be a good bet. However, the roster in 2022 will look completely different than what it looks like today. The Bears have about 31 players in the final season of their contract. Thus, they are due to be free agents. There are a few more who have buyouts and could also become free agents.

One of those players with a buyout is running back Tarik Cohen. Cohen hasn’t played much since he signed a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension. In fact, he’s played in only two and a half games. He tore his ACL in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons and hasn’t played a down yet.

Actually, he hasn’t been cleared to play yet. The thought was that Cohen would be ready to go at the start of the season. That didn’t happen as the Bears placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Nagy and company have been vague about his condition. The Bears continue to say that Cohen is progressing well, but it’s now been 61 weeks since he played. That progression sure is slow. Yes, all players are different, but many players who suffer that injury usually come back the next season. That does not look like the case with Cohen.

Reporters asked Nagy in his press conference this past Monday about Cohen’s condition. All he said was that he’s happy about him going to rehab sessions and attending meetings regularly. That’s all well and good, but we still don’t know when or if he’ll play this season.

No surprise if we saw the last of Cohen in a Bears uniform

If the Bears keep Cohen beyond 2021, he’ll count for $5.75 million towards the salary cap in 2022 and $7.5 million in 2023.

The Bears found themselves a good duo at running back with David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. They could now go and find a less expensive and healthier alternative to Cohen either through free agency or the draft.

It would not be surprising if the Bears shut Tarik Cohen down for the rest of the season (without saying anything of course) to avoid him getting injured again. It also wouldn’t be surprising if they cut ties with him in the offseason.

Seeing how slow his recovery from this injury is, we don’t know how he’ll play when he’s finally ready. Even when healthy, he wasn’t the same player the fans loved in 2018. That year, he amassed 1,169 yards from scrimmage. Additionally, he led the league with 411 punt return yards.

Cohen hasn’t had the same numbers since, however. In 2019, he had just 669 yards from scrimmage. His punt return yards also dropped to 302 yards.

Now he has a serious injury to deal with. Along with that, there had to be some setbacks, despite not hearing anything from the team.

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Tarik Cohen was a fan-favorite since the 2018 season. However, we have to face the fact that he likely played his last snap as a Chicago Bears player. With his rehab not progressing as quickly as expected the team won’t know how healthy he’ll really be. Given his salary, the Bears have to do what is necessary to build a winning roster. That might include letting Cohen go.