Giovani Bernard

Buccaneers Place RB Giovani Bernard, OL Josh Wells On IR

After injuries to veterans Giovani Bernard and Josh Wells, the Buccaneers are making roster adjustments. Both players landed on injured reserve Wednesday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

Ankle and calf injuries, respectively, will sideline Bernard and Wells for at least four weeks. Wells’ ailment is not believed to be season-ending, per ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine (on Twitter), but the backup tackle will be shut down for a while.

[RELATED: Bucs Add Cole Beasley To Practice Squad]

Wells started in place of injured left tackle Donovan Smith in Week 2, but the ninth-year veteran went down during the Bucs’ win over the Saints. Following Wells’ exit, the Bucs turned to third-year UDFA Brandon Walton, who had spent last season on the team’s practice squad. A Florida Atlantic alum, Walton has only dressed for two NFL games. Sunday marked his first regular-season snaps on offense.

Wells joins center Ryan Jensen and guard Aaron Stinnie on IR. Smith, who missed Week 2 with an elbow injury, remains on the team’s active roster. Smith being unable to go in Week 3 against the Packers would mark yet another new starter for a Bucs offensive line that continues to absorb injury blows. Wells, 31, has been with the Bucs as a backup O-lineman since 2019.

Although the Bucs re-signed Bernard this offseason, the veteran running back has not been used on offense through two games. Leonard Fournette and rookie Rachaad White have played in front of Bernard, whom the Bucs signed as a possible passing-down option last year. Bernard caught 23 passes for just 123 yards last season. At 30, the former Bengals running back has seen time on special teams in his second Bucs slate.

Tampa Bay promoted linebacker Kenny Young and wide receiver Kaylon Geiger to its 53-man roster to replace Bernard and Wells, Stroud adds (via Twitter). The team also added offensive lineman Justin Skule to its practice squad. Skule spent the past three years with the 49ers. While he missed the 2021 season with an ACL tear, Skule started 12 games between the 2019 and ’20 seasons. The Vanderbilt product served as Joe Staley‘s primary replacement during the latter’s 2019 finale.

Giovani Bernard On Buccaneers’ Roster Bubble?

For the second straight offseason, the Buccaneers have been able to keep a number of core players on the books heading into the following season. That has left them with depth at many positions, including running back. 

Tampa has Leonard Fournette at the top of the depth chart, after he produced over 1,200 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns in his second season with the team; those numbers earned him a three-year, $21MM extension. Having established himself as a three-down back, it came as little surprise when Ronald Jones departed in free agency.

That left the team with 2020 third-rounder Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard as depth at the position heading into the draft. Vaughn impressed in the limited opportunities he had last season (which included one start), averaging five yards per carry. The Bucs then selected Rachaad White in the third round, adding further to the young options behind Fournette in both the short- and intermediate-term future.

That has led to questions about Bernard’s place on the roster. The longtime Bengal signed a one-year deal to remain in Tampa before the draft, valued at the veteran minimum of $1.12MM. Given the way the RB depth chart now looks, however, the 30-year-old “could be left out” of the 53-man roster, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. Much will depend, she adds, on White’s abilities on passing downs, both as a receiver and in pass protection.

Those elements have been a staple of Bernard’s game throughout his career. He registered just 23 catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns in limited action last year, but reportedly had a market beyond the Bucs in free agency. He opted to remain in Tampa, but he may have no choice but to sign with a new team for the second straight year in the near future.

Buccaneers To Re-Sign Giovani Bernard

Another member of the 2021 Buccaneers’ roster is set to remain on the squad. The team is re-signing running back Giovani Bernard on a one-year contract, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). Greg Auman of the Athletic adds (on Twitter) that it is a veteran salary benefit deal valued at $1.12MM. 

[RELATED: Buccaneers Re-Sign Fournette]

Bernard, 30, spent last year in Tampa Bay after eight seasons with the Bengals. Slotted in behind Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones on the depth chart, he only received eight carries in 12 games. He did, on the other hand, chip in via his usage in the passing game; he made 23 catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns. In the team’s pair of playoff contests, he added 83 total yards and another score.

A second round pick in 2013, Bernard has always been known as a change-of-pace back more so than an every-down workhorse. His pass-catching ability garnered interest after he was released by the Bengals last offseason. Ultimately, he was recruited to Tampa by Tom Brady and Bruce Arians. While he played a small role in the team’s offense, he was able to win a playoff game with them for the first time in his career.

As was the case one year ago, Bernard had “multiple offers”, Pelissero notes. Instead of heading to a new NFL home for the second straight year, though, he will stay in Tampa with an offense that has remained almost entirely intact from 2021.

Tom Brady Coming Out Of Retirement, Will Rejoin Bucs

It looks like the Buccaneers’ quarterback questions have been answered for now. Get comfortable, Kyle Trask, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. After 40 days of retirement, Tom Brady has announced he will return for his 23rd season of NFL football in a tweet this evening. He announced he has unfinished business in Tampa after the team lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year to the eventual-Super Bowl Champion Rams. 

Rumors of a Brady unretirement had persisted since his February 1st announcement. Brady even hinted at the possibility of a Favre-like return, coming back just in time for training camp. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, made it very clear that they had no intention of allowing Brady to play elsewhere for the 2022 NFL Season. It turns out, they have nothing to worry about for now. Brady cited his love for his teammates in his unretirement announcement.

Some details will need to be hashed out as Brady still had four years on his contract, with all years after 2022 being voided upon his retirement. Past that, Tampa Bay has several offensive pieces set to become unrestricted free agents including center Ryan Jensen, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard. If they are going to attempt another glory run, these loose ends will need to be tied up.

In response to the news, no one is more happy to see the quarterback return than Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey who was set to spend eternity as the last person to have Tom Brady throw a touchdown on them. On the other hand, no one is less happy to see the quarterback return than the unfortunate big-spender who just dropped $518,000 at an auction in a bid to receive Tom Brady’s final touchdown ball. Looks like there will be many other balls getting thrown past many other defensive backs before Brady retires again.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/15/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers To Activate Lavonte David, Giovani Bernard; Leonard Fournette To Remain On IR

Part of the Buccaneers’ injured contingent will be back in uniform for the defending champions Sunday. Lavonte David and Giovani Bernard are set to come off IR on Saturday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets.

David suffered a foot injury in Week 15, joining Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin in going down during a shutout loss to the Saints. Godwin is done for the season, and Laine adds Fournette will not be activated ahead of Saturday’s roster-setting deadline. Fournette is battling a hamstring injury.

While Bernard has not played a key role this season, he will be in line to do so against the Eagles. Not only is Fournette out, but the Bucs also declared Ronald Jones out because of an ankle injury. Tampa Bay has Bernard, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell as its healthy backs.

Fournette carried the load for the Bucs for most of this season, reducing Jones and the others to bit parts. The former Jaguars top-five pick totaled a Bucs-most 1,266 scrimmage yards in 14 games. Fournette can still be activated ahead of a divisional-round game or the NFC championship, provided this Bucs iteration’s season extends that far.

One of the NFL’s top off-ball linebackers over the past 10 seasons, David was instrumental to the Bucs claiming their second Super Bowl title last season. He totaled 97 tackles and two forced fumbles this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 linebacker. David will be tasked with leading a charge against an Eagles team that leads the NFL in rushing.

Bruce Arians said Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are also on track to return against Philadelphia. While Barrett was a full practice participant Friday, JPP did not suit up for even a limited session due to his shoulder and knee injuries. JPP is not on IR, however, and has not been declared out.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/12/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys 

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Designate Lavonte David, Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard For Return

After sustaining several injury subtractions down the stretch, the Buccaneers are preparing to deploy a healthier squad for their first-round playoff matchup. The defending champs designated Lavonte David, Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard for return from IR on Wednesday.

David has been down since suffering a foot injury during the Bucs’ Week 15 loss to the Saints, one of a few key Bucs who did not make it past that night. The veteran linebacker has spent the past three weeks on IR but is eligible to return for Sunday’s Eagles tilt. Also seeing an ankle malady sideline him earlier in the campaign, David missed five games during the regular season due to injury.

Joining David in going down in that Saints shutout loss, Fournette returned to practice and is expected to play Sunday. Fournette enjoyed a bounce-back season, rushing for 812 yards (on 4.5 per carry) in 14 games, before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 15. The playoffs stand to be pivotal for Fournette, who is on the cusp of what should be a better free agent market. The former top-five pick played a vital role for the Bucs during last year’s postseason, totaling 448 yards from scrimmage and scoring four touchdowns.

Bernard has been down a bit longer, missing that Saints tilt and having not played since Week 14. One of the few key newcomers for Tampa Bay this season, Bernard has not played much of a role for his second NFL team. The longtime Bengal has totaled just 181 scrimmage yards in 12 games.

The Bucs activated Shaquil Barrett from IR on Tuesday, and Bruce Arians also expects Jason Pierre-Paul to return after a rotator cuff tear sidelined him for the past four games. While Richard Sherman is done for the season, the Bucs stand to be a much healthier squad when they play their 18th game this season.

Buccaneers To Place RB Giovani Bernard On IR

The Buccaneers have placed Giovani Bernard on the injured reserve list. This was the expected move after the running back suffered an MCL injury earlier this week.

Bernard is also dealing with a hip issue and both injuries will require some time off. Fortunately for the Bucs, they have enough backfield ammo to get by without him. Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette continue to lead the rushing attack while Ke’Shawn Vaughn is already on the roster to serve as the third RB. If they want a fourth, Darwin Thompson is available for promotion.

So far this year, Bernard has registered just eight carries for 58 yards, plus 23 catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, he managed 47 catches for 355 yards and three receiving TDs with the Bengals — his best line since 2017.

The 10-3 Bucs face the Saints on Sunday night, a chance to formally clinch the NFC South.

Bucs’ Giovani Bernard Suffers MCL Injury

Giovani Bernard will be out for at least a little while. The Buccaneers running back has been diagnosed with an MCL injury, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). Between that and his hip strain, Bernard will need some time to heal up. 

Bernard joined the Bucs this offseason after being released by the Bengals. Since then, he’s been used as the team’s RB3 behind Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. To date, Bernard’s got just eight carries for 58 yards, though he’s put his soft hands to work as a pass-catching receiver with 23 grabs for 123 yards and three scores.

The Buccaneers also have Ke’Shawn Vaughn on the roster, so they don’t necessarily have to add another RB. But, if they need a fourth rusher, Darwin Thompson could be promoted from the practice squad.

The Buccaneers advanced to 10-3 yesterday by topping the Bills 33-27. Next up, a Sunday night showdown with the Saints. A win would formally seal the NFC South title and bring them one step closer to clinching a first round bye.