Former Bears All-Pro RB Tarik Cohen signs with New York Jets

A former Chicago Bears All-Pro player is getting another shot in the NFL.

Tarik Cohen, the former Bears' All-Pro who last played in the league in 2020, signed with the New York Jets, the team announced on Wednesday.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh called Cohen an "explosive playmaker," and had a very specific reason for signing Cohen.

"With the new kickoff rule, they're going to touch the ball over 100 times a year," Saleh said Wednesday. "It's signfiicant."

This checks out considering Cohen's history. 

In 2018, Cohen was a named to the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers of America's first-team All-Pro teams as a punt returner. That season, Cohen had 411 punt return yards. In 2017, Cohen returned 26 kickoffs as a rookie for 583 yards. He averaged 22.4 yards per kick return.

As an offensive weapon, Cohen rushed for 1,101 yards and five touchdowns, but made most of his headway as a receiver. Cohen has 209 career receptions for 1,575 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Cohen was hit with a string of bad luck after a strong start to his career. In a game against the Falcons in 2020, Cohen suffered a torn ACL, MCL and leg fracture. He missed the rest of the 2020 season and the entire 2021 campaign as he recovered. He was released by the Bears in March 2022.

Cohen attempted a comeback in 2022, but suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. He signed with the Carolina Panthers practice squad in 2023, and was released earlier this month.

Cohen was originally a fourth-round selection by the Bears in the 2017 NFL Draft out of North Carolina A&T.

Now, with the rule changes coming to the game, it's becoming clear that teams are placing a premium on skilled returners.

"A guy like him, who's still young, obviously coming off his injuries, but we're excited," Saleh said.


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