The reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done an impressive job keeping their core together this offseason, but Bruce Arians and Jason Licht aren't done adding to their roster just yet. On Monday, the Buccaneers reportedly made an intriguing move by signing former Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard to a one-year deal, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.
Pelissero reports that both Tom Brady and coach Arians recruited Bernard after he was surprisingly released last week despite reports that Bernard was receiving trade interest from several teams. Bernard, who turned 29 in November, is expected to play the role of third-down back and work as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, James White had interest in joining the Bucs to fill that third-down role before he re-signed with the New England Patriots. Now, Bernard will have a chance to fill that role and boost the passing game.
In 2020, Bernard caught 47 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns, but saw plenty of work as Cincinnati's No. 1 back with Joe Mixon battling injuries for the majority of the year. Bernard has spent his entire career with the Bengals, who selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. In 115 career games, Bernard has caught 342 passes for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns. He now joins a loaded backfield with Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones. Bernard will also have the opportunity to mentor second-year back Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who has that potential to be effective out of the backfield as well.