The Bucs signed former Bengal Giovani Bernard to a one-year deal, according to a Twitter post by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Bernard has played in Cincinnati since the Bengals drafted him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. While the 29-year-old hasn’t posted any ridiculous numbers or earned any huge accolades, the former Tar Heel has a reputation as one of the most productive and solid receiving backs in the league—even with his turning 30 years old in November—and with Tom Brady’s previous success with pass catching backs such as James White, it could be a sign that Bernard’s production is about to take a huge jump with the Bucs.
The deal is one of many huge offseason moves by the Bucs in their pursuit for a second straight Super Bowl, and allows the Bucs to fill out the rest of their roster in the draft.
Tampa Bay may have brought back all 22 starters from the Super Bowl, but it was also incredibly fortunate to not have any major players miss significant time last season. That’s unlikely this season.
As for any future signings for the Bucs, look out for the receiver position, as Antonio Brown is unsigned along with free agents like Dez Bryant and Josh Gordon. While TB12 has chemistry and history with Brown, his legal situation with a sexual assault case scheduled to go to trial in December makes signing him risky. Brown is also reportedly seeking more money than the Bucs are willing (or able) to offer with their salary cap restrictions.
Gordon is a question mark himself, as off-the-field problems with substance abuse have plagued what could have been a great career. But, he does have prior experience with Brady, as he caught the GOAT’s 500th career TD pass in New England when Gordon was on the Patriots for the 2019 season. He is currently playing for the Zappers in the new Fan Controlled Football (FCF) league, but given the opportunity to break back into the NFL and win a ring with the Bucs should entice the former Cleveland Brown to take his talents to Tampa Bay.
Bryant seems to have the least amount of baggage, but the former Cowboy had an incredibly quiet 2020 season in Baltimore, where he only racked up six catches in as many games. While he doesn’t have any off-the-field problems that could prevent him from playing, he’s 32 and is coming off an Achilles injury that seems to be a lingering problem. He’d certainly be a downgrade from Brown or even Gordon.
However, the big news was the signing of Bernard. Bucs fans can celebrate, as Brady continues to have more weapons than anyone else in the league, with an offensive line that is still one of the best in football.
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