Should the Bears sign Tarik Cohen to a contract extension?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The Bears checked one major box off their to-do list this offseason with the four-year contract extension given to safety Eddie Jackson, making him the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL. But he wasn't the only big-time contributor on the team whose contract was set to expire at the end of 2020.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back Tarik Cohen are both scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency next offseason. Robinson is a prime candidate for a big-time extension before the 2020 regular season kicks off, but what about Cohen? Has he done enough to warrant a new deal?

If we base Cohen's contract value off of last season, he'd be wise to play 2020 on his rookie deal and prove he's a bigger offensive weapon than what he displayed in 2019. He finished the year with just 213 rushing yards and 456 receiving yards. It was a massive regression from 2018 when he ran for 444 yards and added 725 more through the air. His total touchdowns dropped from eight in 2018 to just three last season, too.

RELATED: Predicting 6 moves the Bears will make this offseason

The Bears are well aware of Cohen's true upside, which is much greater than what he produced in 2019. And maybe, if they're smart, they'll try to lock him up on a short-term, team-friendly extension before he has a chance to explode in a contract year. 

Take Las Vegas Raiders running back Jalen Richard as a comp. The 5-foot-8, 205-pound change-of-pace running back signed a two-year, $7 million extension with the team on Wednesday. It's a deal that seems like a reasonable payout for a player who posted similar stats as Cohen in 2019. 

Is Cohen worth $3.5 million per season, though? It would be an average annual salary that puts him in the same tier as Redskins RB Chris Thompson, Saints RB Latavius Murray and a tick below Patriots RB James White. Cohen certainly belongs in the same conversation as those players.

Cohen's value to the offense extends beyond his ability as a runner or even as a receiver out of the backfield. He can line up in the slot, too, and contribute as a wide receiver. Where would a Richard-like contract rank in the wide receiver market? Allen Hurns' (Dolphins) average annual salary is $3.5 million while Colts pass-catcher Chester Rodgers is over $3 million per year. It's safe to say Cohen is more valuable than both of those guys.

With those player comps in mind, it would be a reasonable strategy for Pace to lock up Cohen on a two-year deal that pays between $3 million and $4 million per season before he can improve his market value. Plus, with a new CBA on the horizon, player salaries will only inflate even more.

So while most of the focus will be on Robinson getting a new deal with the Bears, it could be Cohen who signs one first. And it wouldn't be a bad decision considering his role and the market value for a player with his skill set.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Should the Bears sign Tarik Cohen to a contract extension? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago