Less than a week after being released by the Bengals in a cost-cutting move, running back Giovani Bernard has signed a one-year deal with the Bucs, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.
A versatile veteran with more than 6,500 total yards in his eight-season career, Bernard 29, joins a diverse running back room featuring 2020 playoff sensation Leonard Fournette (who recently signed another one-year deal), fourth-year speedster Ronald Jones II (who has no fifth-year option) and second-year project Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
Bernard was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September 2019. Citing Roster Management System, ESPN reported that by releasing him, the Bengals gained $4.1 million in salary-cap savings and incurred only $666,667 in dead money against the cap.
A second-round pick out of North Carolina in 2013, Bernard — who starred at Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas — evolved into a fan favorite in Cincinnati. He had at least 680 rushing yards and 43 catches in each of his first three seasons before his production tapered off.
Nonetheless, he still recorded at least 30 receptions each of the last five seasons, and remained effective in pass protection.
He started 10 games last season in place of injured first-teamer Joe Mixon, running for 416 yards and three touchdowns (3.4 yards per carry), and catching 47 passes for 355 yards and three TDs. He also logged 53 snaps on special teams, one snap more than he totaled as a special-teamer his first seven seasons.
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