The Chicago Bears never let on publicly but it was obvious how much the loss of Tarik Cohen hurt. Not only was he their primary punt returner, he was also one of the few versatile and explosive weapons they had on offense. His exit instantly made the team more predictable and less dynamic. A lethal combination in today’s NFL. Everybody has seen the results since.
They’ve tried to fill the spot at punt returner. Ted Ginn Jr. was a misguided choice from the outset and was cut. Dwayne Harris showed initial promise but then tore his triceps, knocking him out for the year. Offensively? It’s been even worse. Nobody on the roster has come close to mirroring Cohen’s value. Especially in the passing game. That hasn’t stopped them from continuing the search.
Did they just stumble onto their answer?
Most people won’t know the name, DeAndre Carter. That shouldn’t be a big surprise. He went to Sacramento State in college and entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. Not exactly a guy who comes with a lot of fanfare. Still, the 27-year old does offer a skillset that might seem a bit familiar to Bears fans.
Not only is he a capable return man with 354 yards total already this season. He also shows capability as a receiving weapon. One that can be moved around depending on the situation. He is not the total package that Cohen was but his mixture of speed, strong hands, and yard-after-contact prowess could offer something they’re missing.
Hence why they claimed him off waivers this week.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) September 30, 2018
— NFL (@NFL) December 21, 2019
Carter isn’t Tarik Cohen back can do similar things
Talent isn’t really his issue. The guy has speed and good hands. He just hasn’t really gotten an opportunity to contribute much in either Philadelphia or Houston outside of a special teams role. Will that change in Chicago? It’s hard to say. Matt Nagy has a reputation for giving guys like him an opportunity. Think Taquan Mizzell. If anybody might put Carter out there for genuine snaps, it would be him.
In college, the guy was a legitimate weapon. In his final two years at school, he had over 2,200 receiving yards and scored 31 touchdowns. He’s constantly flashed in the preseason and has caught 34 of the 41 passes thrown in his direction at 11.4 yards per play. The Bears offense is at such a point where they must consider every alternative to give this team a spark
Getting him on the field is worth a try.
Carter is not Tarik Cohen but he has enough athletic talent to fill most of that role. Move him around, get him in space, and let him do what he does best. The fact Chicago got him for pennies could end up paying off provided this team can get out of its current funk. Then again the way this coaching staff appears completely lost right now, that feels too much like blind optimism. More likely is the scenario where Carter focuses on punt return duties so Anthony Miller won’t have to.
They’ll have the next two weeks to figure it out.