This Former Chicago Bears’ Pro Bowler Dealt Major Blow to Comeback Attempt

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears / Joe Robbins/GettyImages

A familiar name in Chicago has re-surfaced in NFL news this past week as the Carolina Panthers released former Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen. Cohen, 28, had been attempting a comeback after an unfortunate string of injuries disrupted his once-promising career. The former Bear hasn’t played a snap in the NFL since week three of the 2020 season when he tore both his ACL and MCL while also fracturing his leg.

Cohen was drafted by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of North Carolina A&T where he posted gaudy numbers and set numerous school records. He immediately drew comparisons to former NFL running back Darren Sproles due to his small stature and lightning-quick mobility. At 5 feet 6 inches and 181 pounds, Cohen had the look of a potentially electric dual-threat back and punt/kick returner.

In 2017, Cohen’s first season with the Bears, he made an immediate impact, rushing for 370 yards while also catching 53 passes and combining for four total touchdowns, with one being on a punt return. In 2018, Cohen was named First-Team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl after amassing over 1,100 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns, while also leading the league in punt return yardage with 411. Cohen also threw a touchdown pass in each of his first two seasons in Chicago.

At the beginning of the 2020 season, the Bears signed Cohen to a three-year contract extension worth $17.25 million. But just a few weeks later Cohen sustained his first of what would be a continuous string of season-ending injuries when he tore his ACL and MCL, while also suffering a tibial plateau fracture. Cohen missed not only the 2020 season but also the entire 2021 campaign while recovering from the injuries he sustained in 2020.

The Bears released Cohen on March 16, 2022. Then, in May of that year, Cohen suffered a torn achilles tendon while training for a comeback for the 2022 season. Another season was lost for Cohen. But in August of 2023, Cohen announced he was healthy and attempted yet another comeback, this time hooking on with the Carolina Panthers practice squad that September.

Cohen never made it off the practice squad in 2023, as his comeback once again came to a halt when he was placed on the practice squad injured reserve in November with a hamstring injury. The Panthers did sign Cohen to a reserve/future contract on January 8, 2024, but have now chosen to release the injury-plagued back. Whether another team takes a chance on Cohen before the 2024 season gets underway remains to be seen. Cohen will turn 29 years old this July.