With the latest re-signing of Leonard Fournette, the Bucs have ensured that their working again group will head into 2021 wanting largely the identical because it did final season, except for veteran LeSean McCoy. However whereas Fournette and Ronald Jones mixed for 1,345 of the Bucs’ whole 1,519 dashing yards throughout the 2020 season, their return does little to unravel Tampa Bay’s drawback of discovering a dependable pass-catching again.
Regardless of splitting time on the place, Fournette and Jones every had 5 drops final season, per Professional Soccer Focus, placing them each tied for the fourth-most drops by a working again. The Bucs tried to enhance the place by way of the draft, choosing Ke’Shawn Vaughn out of Vanderbilt within the third spherical, they usually tried once more to enhance it by signing McCoy shortly earlier than the season started, however neither confirmed sufficient to warrant important snaps all through Tampa Bay’s season.
Heading out of 2021 free company, the place stays a necessity. A well-liked title to doubtlessly fill the position was James White, considered one of quarterback Tom Brady’s former teammates in New England. However finally White remained with the Patriots on a one-year deal price slightly below $2.5 million. Now, nonetheless, a brand new title has emerged.
Veteran pass-catching again Giovani Bernard was launched by the Bengals on Wednesday and could possibly be a reputation to look out for later this month, or after the draft if the Bucs don’t add one other weapon to their backfield in late April. Over his eight-year profession in Cincinnati, Bernard has totaled 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns on 342 receptions for a mean of 8.4 yards per catch. In 2020 alone Bernard racked up 355 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns with a catch share of 79.7 p.c.
Along with his pure pass-catching skill and willingness to contribute in move safety, Bernard might probably step in straight away and play an important, though probably restricted, position for the Bucs. PFF gave Bernard a move block grade of 73.0 final season, with solely three seasons in his profession dropping beneath that mark whereas eclipsing an 80.0 move blocking grade in one other three.
Bernard’s addition to the Bucs’ roster would depend upon just a few variables although. If Tampa Bay thinks they’ll doubtlessly assault the working again place by way of the draft, it’s unlikely that Bernard could be signed till Might, which might require him not signing with one other workforce till then. Even then, the Bucs could possibly be taking a look at a really crowded backfield in the event that they add a rookie to the trio of Fournette, Jones and Vaughn.
As well as, Bernard must come affordably. Whereas the Bucs have proven that there are a variety of inventive methods to create extra cap area, Tampa Bay has simply $2.285 million remaining in efficient cap area and can nonetheless have to fill out the remaining gaps of their roster and signal a rookie class. After requesting his launch from the Bengals and denying a pay reduce on the $4.1 million that he was due for the 2021 season, will Bernard come low-cost sufficient for the Bucs to make a practical run at him?
All-in-all, Bernard might assist the Bucs this upcoming season, however a number of issues need to fall good for it to occur and I wouldn’t anticipate the transfer to be made any time quickly.