Giovani Bernard

Bengals Wanted Giovani Bernard To Take Pay Cut

Giovani Bernard‘s time in Cincinnati is done, as the pass-catching back signed with the defending champion Buccaneers a couple weeks ago.

His old team apparently wasn’t set on seeing him walk out the door, but they wanted him to stay on their own terms. Bengals exec Duke Tobin said this week the team had wanted Bernard back at a lower salary, per Ben Baby of ESPN (Twitter link). Bernard declined to take a pay cut, which is what led to his somewhat surprising release.

Bernard had been a staple of the franchise for most of the past decade after they drafted him in the second-round back in 2013. He had been set to earn a $3.7MM base salary with a $4.76MM cap hit in 2021 before getting cut. Bernard elected to chase a ring with Tampa despite interest from the 49ers and Seahawks.

Meanwhile, we also now have the details on Bernard’s contract with the Bucs, which we didn’t have when he first signed. Bernard signed for the vet minimum salary of $1.075MM along with a modest signing bonus of $137.5K, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets.

It’s quite possible Bernard signed for significantly less money to team up with Tom Brady, considering the interest from San Francisco and Seattle. Either way, it’s a great value signing for the Super Bowl champs, as Bernard remained productive while reeling in 47 catches last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Belichick, Bernard, Vikings

After once declaring that he wouldn’t coach beyond 70, Bill Belichick has since walked back his claims. Former head coach Marc Levy is one of the few people who can understand Belichick’s wavering, and he understands why the Patriots head coach continues to move the proverbial goal posts in regards to his retirement.

“Age is only an approximate thing. You’re involved and you’re going at it hard, and you love it, that’s it,” Levy told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “You just coach as long as you love it. I finally retired because the great core of our team had gotten old, and they were all retiring. And I had it finally. I felt I needed some time away.”

Reiss opines that Belichick may be aiming for the wins record (regular season and postseason) among coaches; the 68-year-old currently ranks third all-time with 311 victories. If the Patriots rediscover their winning ways and earn around nine or 10 victories per season, Reiss guesses that Belichick could pass all-time leader Don Shula in about four seasons.

Some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Patriots linebacker Chase Winovich is focused on adding some weight this offseason. The second-year pro was listed at 250 pounds last year, but he’s looking to make a jump to around 260 pounds. Winovich’s desire for more weight and strength was inspired by former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who suggested that the former third-rounder bulks up. “I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘I’m going to get my weight right,'” Winovich said (via Reiss). “That dude’s words get me fired up.”
  • While the Buccaneers are rostering both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, they still went out and added veteran Giovani Bernard this week. While it might seem like a luxury to add the former Bengals running back, Greg Auman of The Athletic writes that it was more of a necessity. By the writer’s estimation, Buccaneers running backs led the NFL last season in drops, and the pass-catching Bernard will certainly be a welcome addition to the Tom Brady-led offense.
  • Former NFL player Robert Steeples has joined the Vikings as an assistant special teams coach, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). Steeples actually played 12 special teams snaps for Minnesota back in 2013, with his two appearances marking his only NFL experience.

49ers, Seahawks Pursued Giovani Bernard

A free agent for the first time, Giovani Bernard agreed to join the defending Super Bowl champions. But prior to his Buccaneers agreement, the veteran passing-down back received interest from other NFC teams.

The 49ers and Seahawks also attempted to sign the eight-year vet, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson contacted Bernard, per Laine, though Bruce Arians and Tom Brady did as well.

Seattle re-signed Chris Carson and still has former first-round pick Rashaad Penny on its payroll. But the former is not known for his receiving chops, and the latter missed most of last season due to injury. The Seahawks have not incorporated their backs into the receiving game extensively during Wilson’s career. No Seattle back has eclipsed 300 receiving yards since Marshawn Lynch in 2014.

Bernard could have provided an intriguing weapon for the team. Wilson’s effort in attempting to recruit the veteran should also serve as a good sign for his Seattle status, which became uncertain for the first time this offseason.

San Francisco’s cap sheet no longer includes Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon‘s veteran salaries, but the 49ers do still employ key cogs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Kyle Shanahan, however, valued McKinnon’s passing-game ability when he authorized a then-top-five running back accord in 2017. The 49ers, who saw injuries wreck McKinnon’s chances of living up to that contract, appear to be on the lookout for a receiving back capable of complementing Mostert and Wilson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers To Sign Giovani Bernard

There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about what the Buccaneers’ backfield will look like between Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, but in the meantime they’ve added an outside option.

Tampa has agreed to a one-year deal with Giovani Bernard, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Bernard was released by the Bengals just last week, and Pelissero reports that Tom Brady and Bruce Arians both helped recruit him to Tampa Bay. Patriots running back James White apparently had interest in joining the Bucs as their third-down back before ultimately re-signing in New England, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

In the same tweet, Rapsheet notes that Bernard also had interest from the Chiefs, so he had his pick of last season’s Super Bowl teams. The Bucs have mostly prioritized locking up all of their own guys, and this is their first significant outside free agent signing of the spring.

He had been set to earn right around $4MM in Cincy in 2021, so it’ll be interesting to see if he beat that when we get the financial terms. A pass-catching specialist who ended up carrying the ball a lot this past year in the wake of Joe Mixon‘s injury, Bernard has 342 receptions for 2,867 yards since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2013.

The North Carolina product spent his first eight seasons with the Bengals. He’ll turn 30 in November, and he should see a lot of targets from Brady, who loves to check down to his ‘backs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Release Giovani Bernard

The Bengals have released Giovani Bernard, per a club announcement. The move will save the team $4.1MM against the 2021 salary cap.

Bernard, 30 in November, still profiles as one of the league’s best pass-catching tailbacks. Last year, he managed 47 catches for 355 yards and three receiving touchdowns — his best line since 2017. Since 2013, Bernard has reeled in 342 grabs for 2,867 yards, good for an 8.4 yards per catch average.

Last year, Bernard saw more carries than expected while Joe Mixon was injured, but he wasn’t all that productive on the ground, gaining 416 yards on 124 carries. Bernard’s always been better known for his receiving abilities, but his 3.4 yards per tote average was well below his career average of 4.0 yards.

The Bengals recently re-upped Samaje Perine, a sign that Bernard would be pushed out of the picture. The veteran was aware of that too — he actually requested his release so that he could hook on elsewhere, according to a source who spoke with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com on Twitter).

Bernard was set to enter his final year under contract with $3.7MM in base salary and a $4.76MM cap hit. The Bengals will save $4.1MM of that sum with $667K in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ Giovani Bernard Drawing Trade Interest

Multiple teams have called on Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The Bengals are seeking a restructuring of Bernard’s contract, but if they can’t come to terms, Bernard could wind up in a different uniform this year.

[RELATED: Bengals To Sign Ricardo Allen]

Bernard, 30 in November, still profiles as one of the league’s best pass-catching tailbacks. Last year, he managed 47 catches for 355 yards and three receiving touchdowns — his best line since 2017. Since 2013, Bernard has reeled in 342 grabs for 2,867 yards, good for an 8.4 yards per catch average.

The Bengals recently re-upped Samaje Perine, a sign that Bernard could be pushed out by the only NFL team he’s ever known. Currently, Bernard has one year left on his deal with $3.7MM in base salary and a $4.76MM cap hit. By trading or releasing him, the Bengals would save $4.1MM against the cap versus $667K in dead money.

Bernard and his soft hands should draw plenty of interest, but the Bengals may want to get a deal done before suitors find an alternative, like free agent running back Duke Johnson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals, Giovani Bernard Agree To Extension

The Bengals are signing Giovani Bernard to a two-year, $10.3MM extension, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The deal will give him a raise to $5.9MM this year and $11MM over both years, including a $600K guaranteed bonus due in March. 

Bernard is no longer the go-to running back in Cincinnati – that’s the role filled by Joe Mixon – but Bernard is still a locker room leader and an important part of the game plan. With the new deal, he’s locked down through 2021.

The 27-year-old (28 in November) was limited to only 12 games in 2018, compiling 211 rushing yards and three scores on 56 carries. He also added another 35 receptions for 218 yards.

Mixon may be the man, for now, but Bernard is always one play away from resuming top billing. Years ago, everyone thought Jeremy Hill would leave Bernard in the dust, and we all saw how that turned out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bernard, Gronk, Cardinals

Giovani Bernard was consistently one of the Bengals‘ most versatile offensive weapons during Marvin Lewis‘ tenure with the organization, but new head coach Zac Taylor is seemingly taking that to a whole new level. According to Michael LaPlaca of Bengals.com, Bernard was used in a variety of different ways during OTAs, including reps at wide receiver.

“I’ve always been the type of guy when my opportunity arises is to go out and play, play hard, play for your team,” Bernard said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We have to play for each other. It’s not about the stats, it’s not about how many plays I get. I just want to go out there when my number is called and make the play.”

The 27-year-old was limited to only 12 games in 2018, compiling 211 rushing yards and three scores on 56 carries. He also added another 35 receptions for 218 yards.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Those hoping for a Rob Gronkowski return probably won’t be thrilled with the former tight end’s physique. As Henry McKenna of USA Today observed, Gronk showed up to the premier of Patriots teammate Julian Edelman‘s documentary looking skinnier than every before. While the six-foot-seven touchdown machine is still plenty tall, he’s clearly slimmed down, and there’s little chance he’d be in any kind of condition to play in the NFL. Gronk already denied talks of a comeback earlier this month.
  • The Cardinals offense under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury continues to be a mystery, although rookie quarterback Kyler Murray referred to the scheme as “explosive.” ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss tried to predict what’s in store in Arizona, opining that the offense will use the shotgun, will be fast, and will spread the field, all while being balanced. Weinfuss also notes that running back David Johnson is expected to play a major role.
  • A fifth player has seemingly declared for the NFL Supplemental Draft, University of St. Francis (IL) defensive back Bryant Perry will be working out for teams next week.

Bengals RB Giovani Bernard To Miss Time

Running back Giovani Bernard did an admirable job of holding down the fort while Joe Mixon missed two weeks of action. Unfortunately, Bernard is now dealing with an injury of his own. The veteran will be out for 2-4 weeks with an MCL sprain, a source tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

At minimum, Bernard will be sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins and the following week’s contest against the rival Steelers. Beyond that, Bernard is in jeopardy of missing games against the Chiefs and Bucs. The good news is that the Bengals have a Week 9 bye, so he’ll have some extra time to rest his knee in early November.

In the past two games, Bernard has scored three touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. His presence will be missed, but the Bengals’ rushing attack should be just fine if Mixon can resume his usual workload on Sunday.

Without Bernard, Mark Walton will assume the No. 2 RB role. The recently signed Thomas Rawls is also on hand as a depth option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Raiders, Carr, Bengals, Bernard

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has “complete faith” that a deal will get done before training camp, as Anthony Galaviz of the Fresno Bee writes.

I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and [GM Reggie McKenzie] will work it out. I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players,” Carr said. “These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”

Recently, McKenzie also expressed confidence in a deal getting done this summer. If both men are to be believed, then it might not be long before we see Carr sign on the dotted line.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Bengals running back Giovani Bernard is expected to be a limited participant at OTAs, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Bernard suffered a torn ACL in November and is still on the mend. In ten games last year, Bernard ran for 337 yards off of 91 carries and added 39 receptions for 336 yards.
  • Free agent tight end Gary Barnidge says that he’s in a holding pattern since a lot of teams are waiting to evaluate their rosters in OTAs and minicamp (Twitter links via SiriusXM), but he says he has no problem with waiting. He added that while he would like to be the No. 1 tight end wherever he signs, he’s also OK with a mentor type of role. We learned on Monday that Barnidge has been contacted by some of his former coaches who are now with the Broncos. He previously visited with the Bills and he has also heard from the Jaguars and Panthers.
  • On Tuesday, the league will vote on whether to permit a team to negotiate with a head coach candidate during the postseason before his season ends, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). The league will also vote on whether to change the anti-tampering policy definition of a GM to the team’s main football exec, even if he doesn’t have control of the 53-man roster.