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Giovani Bernard has been in the league eight years, all of them with the Cincinnati Bengals. For a running back, that’s kind of rare nowadays, especially for a guy who has never really been a “feature” back.
Still, the North Carolina product has found success in the NFL. It could be argued that he’s one of the best No. 2 backs in the league, and that has him drawing interest from teams around the league. Tom Pelissero tweeted about the possibility of a move on Thursday.
“Multiple teams have called to inquire about Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, per source. Barring a restructured contract, Bernard — one of the NFL’s top receiver backs and still only 29 — could be headed elsewhere.”
Multiple teams have called to inquire about #Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, per source. Barring a restructured contract, Bernard — one of the NFL’s top receiving backs and still only 29 — could be headed elsewhere.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 25, 2021
This news isn’t surprising.
The Bengals would clear $4 million worth of cap space off the books by moving the 29-year-old running back. He’s been reliable on the field whenever he’s played, but he’s also started only 30 games in his career. Ten of those came in 2020 after an injury to Joe Mixon.
Bernard has the ability to be a starter, if absolutely necessary. However, he’d ideally be a change-of-pace guy who isn’t limited to being a receiving back. So if a team needs a spot starter with some running ability and top-notch receiving chops, Bernard is capable.
So what is an ideal landing spot for him?
Well, there are a few teams such as the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and even the Atlanta Falcons who could use the 5-foot-9, 205-pound runner. The Buffalo Bills could also use another running back as well, but I’m not sure Bernard gives them anything that Devin Singletary can’t.
The Titans might be an intriguing spot, depending on the development of second-year back Darrynton Evans. Bernard would be the perfect complement to Derrick Henry. But with Henry getting a lion’s share of the workload, would Tennessee pull the trigger? Probably not.
If I had to choose one landing spot that makes sense for both parties, it would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bernard will turn 30 in November. He’s got limited tread on the tires (1,263 touches in nine seasons), but his age is still something to consider.
After three consecutive 10-win seasons to begin his NFL career, Bernard hasn’t seen a winning record with the Bengals since 2015. He’s also never won a playoff game, so how awesome would it be for him to land in Tampa Bay with Tom Brady?
The Bucs currently have a couple RBs that have been serviceable, especially Leonard Fournette. Ronald Jones is an early-down guy who needs a complementary piece to be at his best, while Fournette, despite his bruising style, provided solid receiving ability last season. If he’s demanding too much or Tampa Bay simply wants to move on, Bernard would be a nice option to replace him, especially if Bernard is willing to restructure his contract.
Bernard hasn’t really had an adequate offensive line blocking for him in Cincy, but he would with the Bucs. Their passing game would also utilize him, taking pressure off his limited carries as a runner. It almost makes too much sense.
In nine seasons, Bernard has totaled 6,564 yards from scrimmage (3,697 rushing, 2,867 receiving) and 33 touchdowns.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.