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 the Bengals wanted him to stay on their own terms. Bengals exec Duke Tobin said this week the team 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 was a staple of the franchise for most of the past decade after they drafted him in the second round back in 2013. He was set to earn a $3.7M base salary with a $4.76M 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 $1.075M 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.