Cohen, 26, missed 31 games over the past two years after tearing his right ACL in Week 3 of the 2020 season. Next week, $2.5 million of Cohen's $3.9 million base salary would have become fully guaranteed for injury on the third day of the league year.
Chicago is also releasing veteran nose tackle Eddie Goldman, sources told ESPN on Friday. Goldman had two years remaining on his contract and was set to hit free agency in 2024. The cost-saving move creates $6.66 million in cap space.
Goldman, a 2015 second-round draft pick, is the second defensive stalwart to depart the Bears in as many days. Chicago traded outside linebacker Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and 2023 sixth-round selection.
The defensive tackle started 10 games in 2021 and appeared in 14.
Goldman was an important player in Chicago's 3-4 scheme as a run-stopping nose tackle. He signed a four-year contract extension worth $42 million in 2018 and was selected to the Pro Bowl as an alternate a year later. He opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns and missed the first three games of the 2021 season with injury.
Cohen's injury has been a talking point throughout the offseason for Chicago and whether the Bears would explore options to keep the running back on the roster. General manager Ryan Poles would not disclose whether Cohen was healthy when asked about the running back's status last week at the NFL scouting combine.
"I don't really want to get into the medical piece of individual players, but we'll just take it a day at a time to figure out where he's at for us," Poles said.
The former North Carolina A&T player was drafted in the fourth round by Chicago in 2017, sharing the backfield with former Bears running back Jordan Howard for two seasons. Cohen earned first-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl nod in 2018, when he rushed 99 times for 444 yards and three touchdowns and caught 71 passes for 725 yards and five scores.
Chicago signed Cohen to a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension in September 2020.