Report: Giovani Bernard to Sign Buccaneers Contract, Was Recruited by Tom Brady

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2021

FILE - Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) warms up before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Cincinnati, in this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, file photo. The Bengals continued to part with veterans when they released running back Giovani Bernard on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Bernard, a free agent, played his entire eight-year NFL career in Cincinnati and established himself as a reliable blocking back and receiver.(AP Photo/Aaron Doster, File)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly landed another weapon for their championship defense during the 2021 season. 

On Monday, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the NFC South team signed running back Giovani Bernard to a one-year deal after quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bruce Arians recruited him.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Bernard had interest from the Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs but chose the Super Bowl champions over the team they defeated with the Lombardi Trophy on the line.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars were also interested in the running back, who was available after the Cincinnati Bengals released him following eight seasons with their team. ESPN's Jenna Laine added the Seattle Seahawks were also in the mix.

Cincinnati selected Bernard with a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and he averaged 701.7 rushing yards per season in his first three years. While he has never rushed for more than 458 yards since, he remained productive because of his receiving ability.

The North Carolina product tallied 47 catches for 355 yards and three touchdowns last season. He has never finished with fewer than 30 catches or 218 receiving yards in a single season throughout his career.

Change-of-pace back with receiving skills could very well be his role with the Buccaneers considering they have Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II coming back from last season's championship roster.

Bernard won't have to worry about opposing defenses locking in on him with players such as the two running backs, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski open, which could lead to mismatches in the aerial attack.

Few quarterbacks in NFL history are as well-equipped to exploit those mismatches as Brady, who routinely hurt opposing defenses by throwing to running backs such as James White during his time with the New England Patriots.