The Bengals and running back Giovani Bernard are finalizing a three-year, $15.5MM contract extension, a source tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). The deal will put Bernard in the top ten of “new money” given annually to running backs (link). The team has since confirmed the deal via press release.
The tailback will make $6MM+ in 2016, per Pelissero. The deal is up after the 2019 season, at which point he’ll still only be 28 years old and primed for another big money deal. In the interim, Bernard has some financial security and a pay bump from his old rookie scale contract.
Bernard, 24, has been a big part of the Bengals’ running game since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2013. Last year, many expected Bernard to fade into the background with big-play back Jeremy Hill taking the reins. However, that wasn’t the case. Bernard ran for a career-high 730 yards with two scores while catching 49 passes for 472 yards. The reliable, all-purpose back was originally slated to hit the open market after the 2016 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.