On Wednesday, the Bengals announced a three-year contract extension for running back Giovani Bernard.
The deal makes Bernard, who was a second-round pick for the Bengals back in 2013, one of the NFL's 10 highest-paid running backs, in terms of average salary per year. Bernard will earn more than $6 million in 2016 alone and could earn up to $15.5 million over the three years of his deal.
Top-10 "new money" APY among running backs for Gio Bernard. He'll make $6M+ in 2016. Deal up after 2019 season, when he'll be 28.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 8, 2016
Bernard has been the Bengals' most versatile offensive weapon throughout his tenure in Cincinnati, racking up 2,105 rushing yards, 1,335 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns in his three-year NFL career. He put up most of these numbers as the Bengals' secondary running back--first a backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and later as a complement to Jeremy Hill. But despite not being Cincinnati's primary back, Bernard has quietly emerged as one of the NFL's most exciting playmakers and one of the Bengals' most valuable offensive weapons.
The deal, which will pay Bernard over $9 million during the next two years, seems to be front-loaded, which could help the Bengals re-sign more of their key players down the road. More specifically, it could help the Bengals potentially re-sign Hill, who is the perfect complement to Bernard's game and who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
But was this the right move? Did the Bengals spend too much in locking down Bernard, signing him to a deal making him a top 10 running back APY? Should the team have waited to re-sign him based on his 2016 performance? What do you think about this extension?